A Wirral landmark is a step closer to being restored to its former glory and transformed into a specialist maritime centre under plans agreed by councillors.
The iconic 19th century Grade 2 listed Hydraulic Tower building, a copy of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, had been left unused for decades at the Four Bridges but is now moving ahead with being brought back to life as the Maritime Knowledge Hub. The Economy, Regeneration and Development Committee agreed to recommend the Wirral Waters Investment Fund be approved for investment into the Maritime Knowledge Hub and another key Wirral Waters scheme, Egerton Village, which will include retail to support the emerging residential developments nearby plus a new square with an events programme as well as managed workspace and studios and potentially a restaurant. The council is moving forward with agreeing 250-year lease on the building and investing in its redevelopment to help maintain the momentum of regeneration in the area, including creating hundreds of new jobs, and working closely with Wirral Waters developer Peel L&P.
The Maritime Knowledge Hub will be a world class centre of excellence for maritime business growth and sector development, bringing together the region’s key maritime assets in business, research, education, and training to address future challenges around innovation and skills within a refurbished and new high-profile centre. The project, which is within the Wirral Waters Enterprise Zone has the potential to create up to 621 new jobs while also helping in the reclamation of circa 2.3 acres of brownfield land and bringing a listed building back into use. The space will be designed to create an environment for maritime businesses and for university provision to locate and for a range of skills to come together from these organisations to help drive new products intended to significantly advance the growth of the sector, focussing on decarbonisation and digitalisation which are the prominent technology challenges for the sector and closely linked to the council’s own net carbon targets.
The scheme has an outline design that has been prepared by two award-winning, internationally acclaimed architectural firms, Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects in Denmark, and Ellis Williams Architects in Liverpool. The architects are committed to breathing new life back into the Grade II listed Hydraulic Tower building, which was bombed during World War II with an emphasis on designing in sustainability. Visually, this project is expected to be one of the most spectacular parts of the entire Wirral Waters regeneration project.