By Daniel Hunter
Campaigners for a direct HS2 rail link into Liverpool say that news of a massive investment into a Manchester development site adjacent to Piccadilly Station proves the benefit of High Speed connectivity.
The decision announced last Friday to relocate up to 430,000 sq ft of government offices to a the Mayflied site, dubbed the “Whitehall of the North”, is another major boost to the city at the heart of the proposed high speed network.
Regionally the Mayfield site has been seen as direct competition for the Pall Mall/Exchange Station area adjacent to Liverpool’s Commercial District which has also been earmarked as an opportunity for civil service relocation.
Business-led campaign group 20 Miles More and public policy think tank, ResPublica, believe the announcement underscores the competitive disadvantage that Liverpool will face unless it secures a direct link to HS2.
The city’s case for High Speed rail is being supported by a major report being undertaken by ResPublica on behalf of The Mayor of Liverpool and other key public agencies.
The think tank’s Liverpool-born Director Phillip Blond said: “If this happens it is a massive boost for Manchester city centre and its commercial economy. It would be a single deal equivalent to the entire volume of commercial offices let in Liverpool last year. The Mayfield project has been developed as part of an integrated City Region economic strategy and has been supported by all its authorities and public agencies.
"The same economic strategy has also underpinned Manchester’s case for both HS2 and HS3.We need to develop a similarly integrated approach in Liverpool City Region, and it’s why I agree with Mayor Anderson that a Metro-Mayor could provide us with the clout and coherence that we need to compete.”
20 Miles More described the decision 'depressing' and 'predictable'. Chair Andrew Morris said: “There is a similar opportunity in Liverpool at Pall Mall on the edge of our Commercial District which would probably be a more cost effective solution to Government Departments struggling under the burden of austerity. If we have similar assets and opportunities here, there must be another reason why yet again the investment is going to Manchester. Better connectivity must be a major part of the explanation.”