It’s green for go – or is that green for starboard? – at Wallasey’s Great Float, home to the iconic Hydraulic Tower building: and soon to be headquarters for a new global Maritime Knowledge Hub.
Wirral Council has approved Peel’s plans to turn the Florentine-inspired clock-tower (with a new extension) into a centre of excellence for all things marine conservation, licking the booming maritime sector into shape for a carbon-zero future.
“The Maritime Knowledge Hub is a really special project for so many reasons,” Peel’s Director for Development for Wirral Waters, Richard Mawdsley tells us. “It will continue the Wirral’s proud maritime heritage; create new jobs and help the Wirral to be at the forefront of maritime innovation.”
Designed by in-demand architects Ellis Williams Architects, the Maritime Knowledge Hub is set to be a real landmark for the already impressive Wirral Waters scheme. Maybe they’ll even get that clock going again.
“We've made a start, but we need to fan the flames a bit more and connect all those dots up,” says Mawdsley. “Port cities are in decline all over the world. Docks like this aren’t fit for purpose any more.”
“Our precedents for this are cities like Hamburg, Vancouver or even Bristol harbourside,” Mawdsley adds, “they were in terminal decline too. But it takes time."
"Even Salford Quays took a good twenty years before it really bedded in. This is a place lead, but jobs first plan,” he says, talking of the project’s next phase: business parks, light industrial zones and - at the centre of it all, this Left Bank icon tranformed into a world-first hub for environmentally-focused maritime research.
As Mawdsley admits, Peel is playing the long game: “This is just the first part of a 20 to 30 year project,” he says. “Reimagining places like this takes time. But this area has a pioneering spirit, still, and the Maritime Hub will definitely plug into that."