“There’s nowhere else in the UK and very few places in the world that are better placed than Liverpool to lead on building global pandemic resilience…”

by Ian Hughes
10th February 2021

When the covid-19 pandemic hit the UK last March, Liverpool didn’t miss a beat, pioneering new ideas, including mass, city-wide testing, detailed recovery plans and a variety of health and life sciences measures to stop the spread and help end covid – all right from the outset.

Event chaired by Alex Irwin-Hunt, Global Markets Editor, FDI Intelligence (Chair)

Taking swift, decisive action with strong leadership and long-held partnerships has always stood our city region in good stead. Now, a selection of Liverpool’s most influential public and private sector representatives discuss their post-pandemic investment and growth strategies, along with a number of major plans and ambitious projects that Liverpool is fast becoming famous for.

Through the Liverpool MIPIM Partnership, this year’s London Real Estate Forum hosted a dedicated webinar session on Liverpool City Region’s post-pandemic strategy, entitled ‘Liverpool Levelling-up’  broadcast live on Zoom, on the 3rd February 2021.

The event was chaired by FDI Intelligence’s Global Markets Editor Alex Irwin-Hunt, and featured contributions from Bruntwood Director of Strategy, Jessica Bowles, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Co-Head of Investment, Raphael Miller, Morgan Sindall Managing Director, Barry Roberts and Liverpool City Council Chief Executive, Tony Reeves.

You can watch the full webinar below, or if you are short of time, you can read a selection of highlights from the event below.


Tony Reeves, Chief Executive, Liverpool City Council


“Right from the outset we recognised that there would be really significant economic challenges, as a result of the covid-19 crisis. We started our economic recovery planning at a city and city region level last March and that work has continued ever since. We’re working very hard to bring our infection rate down and its coming down rapidly.

“The key thing is playing to our strengths and not trying to reinvent ourselves. We have major global strengths in health and life sciences and digital technology and when you couple this with the things we’ve learned through the pandemic, such as the smart testing pilot that we trialled, on behalf of the rest of the UK, we think this will ultimately translate into economic opportunity, going forward.

“Our economic recovery plan focused on innovation, employment, housing, culture and the visitor economy and we’ve got some really key capital projects which we’ve been progressing since then, which we think are catalysts for further investment and city growth.

Littlewoods Film Studios, Liverpool Knowledge Quarter – Particularly the Paddington Village project, the Pall Mall development, the next phase of the central business district and other key schemes, such as the Kings Dock regeneration, which we’re currently in the procurement process to select a developer for.

l-r Littlewoods Film Studios, Liverpool Knowledge Quarter – Pall Mall and Paddington Village project and the next phase of the central business district

“We didn’t let the grass grow under our feet. We think Liverpool’s got a very bright future but it’s really important that we continue to work with urgency and efficiency, but in a smart way, so we can come out of this recession as quickly and effectively as we can.


Jessica Bowles, Director of Strategy, Bruntwood


“Liverpool came right out the traps with a plan and a focus on what the future could look like for the region’s economy, after the pandemic. For Bruntwood, as a private sector partner, this was fantastically exciting to be involved in because we needed to see beyond the immediate health consequences.

“This has enabled Bruntwood to play a real part in what the city region was going to look like in the years ahead and this work was a fantastic signal of Liverpool’s strong approach to partnerships and its desire to work with public and private sector partners in a new and very dynamic way. It was very energising thing to do, at a point when the world seemed pretty bleak.”


Barry Roberts, Managing Director, Morgan Sindall


“Liverpool’s implemented a testing regime across the city centre, which at the time was a brave and forward-thinking thing to do and better than the response of many other cities, it’s fair to say.

“Our region’s mass covid testing pilot really helped the construction sector. We can have 250 workers per site, on some of our sites in Liverpool, and the safer environment brought about by easy, fast testing meant that we could plough on, without shutting down construction sites, was a great benefit to our work across the region.

“Before covid, Liverpool was showing some really strong growth. Due to covid, it’s been halted a bit, but if you look at all the indices, it is growing again and coming right back. There’s so many great things happening.

“The Royal College of Physicians is the oldest royal college, established in London since the reign of King Henry VIII and it’s finally seen the light and is moving to Liverpool next year! Companies are seeing that Liverpool has a great offer, with the right culture, and the right people, and the right skills available, so they can easily move their business to Liverpool and benefit from all the things we have here.


“The Pall Mall development presents a great location and the central business district is a really important part of the city. But the supply of grade available, new grade ‘A’ office space has been pretty limited in Liverpool. because of growing demand.

“We’re very confident that the Pall Mall development will go forward. We have the first phase. We had lettings lined up for the first phase, working with developers TTP and Kier last time. That interest is currently on pause but it hasn’t gone away. I can’t go into too much detail but we’re very confident that will come back and we think that will still go ahead.

“An awful lot has been said, during the pandemic, about the role of cities and that cities are finished and everyone is going to work from home.

“Now, anybody that thinks that 200 years of urbanisation is going to change because of the pandemic is nuts, quite frankly. But what it will do, and already is, is accelerating the trends that were already here. So, there may be trends towards more agile working.



“For the plan, we looked at four areas, innovation, culture, health and life sciences and infection control. When we put the recovery plan together we carried out extensive engagement with businesses and that’s carried on, right the way through the pandemic, with regular sessions with businesses leaders, so we were hearing what the real needs of our economy were, rather than just looking at things through a public sector lens and I think that’s incredibly important.

“The economic recovery plan we submitted to government came with really strong endorsements from a whole range of business leaders and representatives and it really was a collective effort, rather than a public sector document.

 “During the course of the pandemic our thinking on this has further evolved because we believe there is great scope for building pandemic resilience into our planning, going forward.

“The world has woken up and realised the impact that this pandemic has had, with more than two million deaths and trillions of pounds of lost economic output, so investing in economic and pandemic resilience is incredibly important.

“There’s nowhere else in the UK and very few places in the world that are better placed than Liverpool to lead on building global pandemic resilience.

“One of the key projects in our economic recovery plan is called ‘The HILL’ – Health Improvement Liverpool – which is a combination of digital and physical projects, but at the heart of this we will have world-leading research and innovation around infection control and pandemic resilience.

“Liverpool has the world’s first school of tropical medicine which has gone from strength to strength, over many decades, alongside incredible expertise within our universities, led by people like Professor Ian Buchan and Professor Callum Semple, whose part of the SAGE Committee, but it doesn’t end there.

“People often don’t make this connection, but Liverpool has one of the biggest vet schools in the country and 70 per cent of pandemics are caused by a transfer of disease from the animal kingdom to human beings, so expertise around zoonotics are even more critically important than ever before.

“Our university has world-leading strength in that area and we have the world’s biggest health and animal database and when you put all of those assets together, with everything that we’ve learnt through the pandemic, and great collaboration between the public and private sector, you have an offer that is genuinely world-changing.

“We now have major American companies wanting to co-invest with us in these kinds of projects going forward. We’re in detailed discussions with them and this is just one of many really exciting things happening around Liverpool’s sector strengths.

“Alongside this, our recovery plan talks about the opportunities presented by retrofit housing, which can quickly generate high numbers of skilled jobs, with local supply chains. The plan also addresses tackling major issues such as carbon emissions.

“The visitor economy is also incredibly important to us and our ‘Liverpool Without Walls’ initiative, saw popular city centre streets begin to be closed off from traffic when we first came out of the first phase of lockdown.

“Restaurants could then bring seating out into the street and serve the sufficient numbers of customer needed to make their business viable, whilst maintaining social distancing. The project was widely praised and has now led to a discussion about how we build on that to turn Liverpool into more of a European style city, with ‘street café culture’ at its heart. Really exciting stuff in terms of the city’s visitor economy and evening atmosphere.


“Inclusion is paramount. We don’t want to leave people behind, in terms of our economic recovery and this pandemic has exacerbated inequalities in our poorer communities and we need to work together as cities and regions to tackle inequality and make sure we’re creating opportunities for everybody, so that they can participate in the growth to come.

“Hopefully what comes through from all participants today, is a real burning ambition to work together and get this right and be prepared to take some risks, and that’s why we stepped in and piloted mass testing, because we’re prepared to be bold as a city and I think that attitude and our mind-set of not being afraid to fail but to fail quickly and learn and move on is going to be really important if we want to achieve the level of success we desire.”


Raphael Miller, Co-Head of Investment, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority


“The economic recovery plan that has projects with the potential value of around £8bn pound. The public sector contribution is going to be a small fraction of that, so investment from the private sector is going to be absolutely fundamental when it comes to delivering our economic recovery plan.

“Of course, it goes broader than purely property. We’re very much focussing on innovation assets for the future, across the city region. We’re currently working in partnership with Unilever and the National Packaging Innovation Centre to create a national packaging research centre on the Wirral.

“We’re working with Liverpool’s Manufacturing Technology Centre to find out how we can bring modern methods of construction into housing retrofits. We’re also currently in a partnership with the private sector to deliver fibre digital networks across the city region, linking the North Atlantic fibre-optic cable to the entire city region, through Hartree STFC in Halton,  This will create an even more attractive destination for investment.


“At Bruntwood we have a major portfolio in Liverpool, but also in Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham. We’re also one of the founding members of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, which really recognises the importance of cities being able to work together in a way that is value creating.

“What sits at the very heart of this alliance is that cities understand their absolute strengths. Not in some sort of broad brush ‘were good at everything’ way, but by absolutely honing in on what their true greatest strengths are and also identifying the things cities need to guard against and need to build upon.

“When you consider not only Liverpool’s broader health and life sciences strength, but particularly our expertise around infection, disease control and disease resilience, you really start to get to the heart of one of Liverpool’s precise global specialisms.

“When you amplify that and take that approach across the other northern UK cities you see that you have a much stronger economy and a much more compelling offer for investors. Naturally, there will always be some competition between cities, but this is a rather old fashioned idea and this thinking starts to dissipate when you see how cites can bolster each other for the greater good.



We’ve worked hard to strengthen our relationship with UK government and there are few government departments that don’t know about what’s on offer in Liverpool. We talked to lots of senior civil servants when we were putting our recovery plan together, we’re continuing that dialogue.

“We’re working really hard to position Liverpool for any opportunities that come up, including any future civil servant relocations. Liverpool has some fantastic opportunities to offer and we’re making sure that we are very much ‘in the shop window’ for them.

“Liverpool is a city and a city region that is worth investing in because the returns on that investment are really sound and if we can attract investment and growth, working with other cities, and the midlands as well, we can really start to rebalance things, in the UK, in the long term.

“Liverpool has been steadily building real credibility in recent years, both nationally and internationally. When someone scratches the surface of all our shiny new plans, they can see real substance underneath and that’s not just compelling for government, but compelling for investors as well.



Ready and raring to face challenges head on, with smart, comprehensive and collaborative plans, Liverpool’s London Real Estate 2021 webinar proves that recovery is already well underway across our city region and we’re even using our world-leading knowledge in life sciences, infectious disease control and prevention and zoonotics to help the world to become pandemic-proof, in the future.

Being ambitious and proactive, even in times of great global turmoil pays off big. Liverpool City Region is determined to create the kind of ‘next level’ business ecosystem that gives smart investors a base that will actively work to facilitate lasting future success, not only post-pandemic, but far beyond.


For more information on other Liverpool MIPIM webinars click HERE or email ihughes@marketinglivrpool.co.uk to be added to the invitation database.