Vision for a 'Baltic by Bootle' would lead to 2,500 creative sector jobs

A MAJOR performance venue, where the seats move around to the action on stage - is at the heart of regeneration plans for a new creative district being carved out on Liverpool's disused north docks area.

It will be the UK’s first-ever "Stage-Around Theatre", based on the hugely successful performance space in Amsterdam.

Liverpool City Council insists the theatre will happen - one of "Ten Big Ideas",  to attract creative businesses to the newly branded "Ten Streets" district.  

It forecasts the initiative will create some 2,500 new jobs over the next decade, encompassing such themes as innovation, culture, growth, connections and collaboration, that will provide a broad direction for future policy and an emerging vision. 

The vision was unveiled at the Titanic Hotel by Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson to mark the start of a public consultation on the area’s future.

He told an audience of suits and "creative entrepreneurs" that the Ten Streets district represents “an opportunity of a lifetime to redefine Liverpool’s future as a creative powerhouse of the 21st century”.

The district, which sits alongside Peel Holdings' oft controversial Liverpool Waters drawing, contains a mix of historic dock warehousing and industrial buildings. The vision is for an area where tech companies, digital businesses and creative enterprises can flourish alongside artistic organisations – "becoming a truly distinctive, inventive and vibrant new urban district".

The Baltic-By-Bootle vision builds on the area’s emerging reputation as an events destination led by the pioneering Sound City Festival, Creamfields Steel Yard and, of course, the Kazimier team at the Invisible Wind Factory. 

The council says: "Other key elements include adding new squares and public spaces and making Ten Streets, which covers 125 acres of former dockland between the northern edge of the city centre and the landmark Tobacco warehouse at Stanley Dock, an exemplar neighbourhood for renewable energy."

It went on: "At this stage, there are no detailed proposals and work on a masterplan for Ten Streets will be informed by the ideas, comments and feedback generated during the month-long consultation campaign."

The starting point for the consultation are Ten Big Ideas, encompassing such themes as innovation, culture, growth, connections and collaboration that will provide a broad direction for future policy and an emerging vision. 

"Although the vision for the area is primarily as a new business and creative quarter, it is envisaged that culture, retail, appropriate scale residential development and an independent leisure offer will all to add to the vitality of the Ten Streets area," it says here.

Mayor Anderson told the gathering: “The launch of this vision for the Ten Streets district is an opportunity of a lifetime to define Liverpool’s future as a creative powerhouse of the 21st century.

“For me, this new theatre says everything about our ambition for Ten Streets and how the creative sector can unleash the untapped potential of these once celebrated docklands and make them once again a beacon of economic growth.
“The partners involved are of the highest calibre and much like with the Knowledge Quarter, Ten Streets will generate high value jobs and stimulate our economy for decades to come.”

The next phase of work for Ten Streets will be undertaken by the multi-award winning Paris-based architectural practice AWP whose work includes the 365 acre strategic masterplan for the Paris Central Business District.  

Alessandra Cianchetta, AWP’s founding partner, said: “We look forward to fostering a lively exchange of ideas which will help shape the physical framework to generate economic and intellectual growth."

Already the mayor has announced plans to bid for the Commonwealth Games, which, if successful, would be sited at Bramley Moor Dock. Meanwhile, widespred speculation about Everton Football Club's relocation there continues.

Mayor Anderson couldn't contain his excitement about either at the launch, at one point telling the assembly they "are going to happen in this area".

Quite how the "creative quarter" vision will sit if the Toffees' move goes ahead is not quite clear, but one council insider admitted it would be yet another "game changer" for the best laid plans. 

Those moveable seats could come in handy.