Pictures: Larry Neild
MAYOR Joe Anderson has kicked off the International Festival of Business in Liverpool by announcing multi-million pound plans on the site of the former Paddington Comprehensive.
It will create up to 10,000 jobs and will see the building of a 1.8 million sq ft knowledge quarter, but he saved the best bit till last: He says he's going to build a new underground train station on the electric line between Liverpool and Manchester.
It’s set to be called Paddington Square, but could just have easily been called Crown Street, the nearby site of what was the world’s very first railway terminus way back in 1830.
The site has become available following the departure of Archbishop Blanch school to Smithdown Road, on land once earmarked for new homes as part of the abandoned Northern Way housing renewal initiative.
The ambitious scheme will see the creation of a national and international hub, specialising in cutting-edge life and medical sciences. The site will include Grade A office space along with units focused on the life sciences sector.
I got a bit of an inferiority complex when everybody started talking about an elephant in the room - Mayor Joe Anderson
The scheme will form a key plank of the Knowledge Quarter Mayoral Development Zone, with phase one likely to begin in 2017. The extension of the Knowledge Quarter will bring essential features to what is fast becoming one of Europe’s leading innovation districts and one of the UKs largest academic and clinical campuses.
In order to meet the needs of local people, commuters, academics, students, patients and hospital visitors, the plans will also include a new rail station with access to the existing underground network and the national high speed rail network via Lime Street Station.
“It is envisaged that the scheme will become a major contribution to the Northern Powerhouse initiative, raising productivity, improving skills and providing the infrastructure to develop the life sciences sector in the City Region,” beamed the mayor.
“The extension of our Knowledge Quarter is a game-changer in terms of the high-quality jobs we will be able to bring into the city in hi-tech, 21st century industries.
“This will help us to develop our Knowledge Quarter as we work with all our partners, including the University of Liverpool and the proposed health campus at the Royal Hospital to make the city a beacon for investment in this and similar sectors. We want to build on the success we are already achieving to make Liverpool a leader in this field.”
He added: “We know there is a real north/south gap in investment around life sciences that sees an overwhelming concentration of jobs and investment head south. However this landmark scheme provides the basis for Liverpool to now become a national and international destination for investment in life and medical sciences, bringing with it thousands of new, high skill, high wage jobs.”
Mayor Anderson was speaking minutes after Chancellor George Osborne addressed delegates on the opening day of the IFB 2016 at Liverpool's Exhibition Centre at Kings Dock.
Osborne heaped so much praise on the mayor you would have thought he’d defected from Labour to the Tory ranks.
Osborne talked about the 30,000 delegates who will be attending what is the world’s biggest business festival.
He then spoke of the "elephant in the room", and launched into a sermon about remaining in the EU.
When Mayor Anderson arrived at the rostrum all that remained was for him to pat his famous girth and declare: “I got a bit of an inferiority complex when everybody started talking about an elephant in the room.”
It got the official opening of the event to a jumbo start, and the first of the 100 overseas delegations started their business networking events.