Ten years of Liverpool ONE

A decade of urban transformation

Anyone standing in Paradise Place in the heart of Liverpool ONE, surrounded by throngs of shoppers and families out for a day of leisure and entertainment, will be aware that they are in the middle of one of the most vibrant city centres in Britain.

The 10 years since the Princess Royal unveiled a plaque to mark the official opening of Liverpool ONE on 1 October 2008, have seen people from Liverpool, the UK, and abroad flock to this unique retail and leisure development created within the city.

Liverpool ONE is the result of Grosvenor’s vision to rejuvenate a city centre in a way that is sympathetic to its history. It is no exaggeration to say it is probably the most successful regeneration project of the modern era. Liverpool ONE has acted as the catalyst for the revival of the wider city-region, while ensuring that the development itself has delivered positive commercial, social and environmental benefits. Liverpool is once again the “go to” destination for the region.

We believe that Liverpool ONE has shown how the idea of place can be a driver for large scale, city centre urban regeneration. It is an internationally recognised model for other cities that want to deliver sympathetic city centre regeneration with a world-class line up of retail and leisure brands.

Liverpool ONE is not only a financially successful city centre redevelopment, but it has acted as a powerful regeneration force for the city. In January 2010, two years after Liverpool ONE opened, Liverpool Vision reported that a further £900m of city-wide development was either on-site or in planning.

Liverpool ONE can also take some credit for contributing to the wider renaissance of the city by fuelling growth in business tourism; creating a flow of visitors who visit museums on the waterfront and the Echo Arena. The city is now better able to leverage itself as a global city and is a far stronger proposition than it was in 1999, when Grosvenor took on the challenge to revitalise the city centre.

Farsighted thinking

Photo supplied by Liverpool Echo

Photo supplied by Liverpool Echo

When Grosvenor responded to the Liverpool Vision drawn up by Liverpool City Council, English Partnerships, and the Northwest Regional Development Agency in June 1999, it had a clear ambition to reposition the city. Our vision was to create a mixed-use development with retail, dining, leisure, public space, offices, and residential accommodation, a place that people could live, visit, play and work. The ambition was not just to improve the current retail offering in Liverpool but to ensure that the city gained a new centre at its heart that would be a quantum leap above what was there before in terms of its quality, scope, and wider appeal.

In the short term the aim was to help revitalise Liverpool, providing the city with one of the most vibrant retail and leisure destinations in the UK, and a future that would attract further investment to both the city and the region.

Grosvenor also saw that the physical location of the site offered the opportunity to reconnect the city centre with adjacent areas that had become cut off from the rest of the city, such as the Pier Head, its Three Graces, and the waterfront. It was an opportunity to strengthen links between the city’s immense heritage of museums, the Beatles legacy, and its world-famous football teams, with important sites such as the docks, railway stations, the universities, and the city's lively arts and music scene.

We wanted to develop the project in such a way that it seamlessly linked the development to the city’s existing grain and street pattern. Rather than build a single, monolithic block that followed the design of one master planner, we knew from the outset that it could only achieve genuine diversity by employing a mix of architects. We engaged 26 different firms to work on the 36 individual buildings that make up the estate, all working within the broad aspirational vision set out in the master plan.

From the outset, we took consultation with all stakeholders including landowners and tenants seriously. Our original planning application was resubmitted in October 2001 to include comments from a wide-ranging consultation exercise. We collaborated with around 275 property owners in the Liverpool ONE area; taking into account their specific needs and requests. We even designed a new building for the BBC and a new bus station for Mersey Travel.

Our commitment to deliver the scheme ensured that it officially opened in time to support Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture in 2008, despite being amidst the worst economic recession of the previous three generations. When other developers, with a lesser farsighted approach, might have felt pressure to reduce the quality of the finishes or halt development altogether, we pressed on during the Global Financial Crisis, valuing the longer term objectives of the project over potential short term commercial losses.

This approach paid off.

The 10 years since opening have seen Liverpool ONE exceed the expectations of residents, shoppers, retailers and investors. It has become an outstanding, internationally renowned retail and leisure destination.

A retail game changer

The master plan for Liverpool ONE, drawn up by international practice BDP, was based on a mixed-used development of new and refurbished buildings, streets and spaces. It was nominated for the 2009 Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize, and resulted in the delivery of a thriving 42-acre living city at the heart of Liverpool.

The 250,000 m² development that Grosvenor Europe now manages, includes more than 200 shops, some 700 apartments, two hotels, 25 restaurants, a 14-screen Odeon cinema, four office buildings, a unique five-acre public park, 2,000 car parking spaces and a public transport interchange.

By designing a layout that followed the existing street pattern, rather than build a hermitically sealed box, Liverpool ONE is open at all times rather than shutting down when the shops close their doors.

Liverpool ONE is still the only scheme on this scale laid out within existing city street plans. We have since received requests from city authorities as far away as Belgium, Sweden and Australia to visit Liverpool ONE.

Liverpool ONE is designed around five unique retail zones each with their individual feel and tenant mix to attract varied groups of shoppers. This includes:

  • The cosmopolitan, pedestrian thoroughfare of Paradise Street, with big name brands such as Arket and JD Sports, as well as retailers appealing to a trend orientated younger market, such as Urban Outfitters, Footlocker, Jack Wolfskin and Guess.
  • South John Street, a two-tier galleried shopping street anchored by the major department stores Debenhams and John Lewis, and home to world-famous brands such as Apple, Lego, Victoria’s Secret and Zara.
  • The elegant Peter’s Lane is home to exclusive brands including Hugo Boss, REISS, Nespresso, The White Company and COS, the latter housed in an historic building that matches the nearby Grade I-listed Bluecoat Arts Centre. Peter’s Lane is also home to Beauty Bazaar Harvey Nichols, a mini-department store dedicated to health, beauty and wellbeing, and the only one of its kind in the world.

Liverpool ONE has proved highly popular with both visitors and occupiers, with the strength and depth of its occupier mix attracting 29 million visitors annually, ensuring both footfall and sales have posted faster growth than the UK average every year. It has firmly established itself as the destination of choice for shopping, leisure and tourism.

> Sales are 7% up year-to-date, 6% ahead of the UK average
> 96% of all occupiers would recommend Liverpool ONE
> Above average retail spend of £100 per visit

Everybody needs good neighbours

Grosvenor was determined from the outset to be a good partner in Liverpool, ensuring that Liverpool ONE would be judged not just by its commercial and financial success, but by whether it delivered positive social benefit to the wider community. The scheme created 3,300 construction jobs, led to 5,000 permanent posts, is an environmentally sustainable scheme, and contributed to the wider wealth, wellbeing and happiness of the city.

Liverpool ONE has embraced the sustainability agenda, installing solar panels on the roof, on-site vehicle fleets are fuelled by biodiesel created by restaurant oil waste, and all waste is diverted away from landfill with almost half recycled on site. Liverpool ONE also purchases sustainable products and materials, and raises awareness of environmental issues and sustainable best practices among retailers, suppliers, and customers.

Grosvenor also took an early decision to incorporate Chavasse Park into the scheme, on an area of open ground created from a Second World War bombsite. It raised the park from ground level, creating a dramatically tiered green oasis that offered views towards the Albert Dock and the Mersey. Chavasse Park is a central space that is utilised to host various enlivenment initiatives throughout the year.

ONE Community is Liverpool ONE’s platform for corporate social responsibility. It aims to make a positive contribution to the sustainability, well-being and prosperity of the Liverpool city-region by: collaborating with charities, schools and community groups; providing learning and volunteering opportunities for the Grosvenor and Liverpool ONE teams; and finding new ways to protect and preserve the environment.

Since 2009, the Liverpool ONE Foundation, which is financed by investors and by the Grosvenor Estate's Westminster Foundation, has also contributed to the city, donating over £2m to community projects across the five metropolitan boroughs of Knowsley, St. Helens, Sefton, Wirral, and the City of Liverpool. It has always focused on helping young unemployed people get a start and, since 2017, it has also invested in community projects that promote positive mental health and wellbeing among the region’s young people.

Through various community initiatives, the foundation works with hundreds of charity collectors, local artists, buskers, and community groups to engage and inspire visitors and the wider community. As a result of that collaboration, the foundation has a positive influence in the city, making it a better place to live, visit and spend time.

The Liverpool ONE legacy

Grosvenor’s vision, combined with the high quality execution of the regeneration plans, helped piece the City of Liverpool back together after decades of decline.

Liverpool ONE has restarted the city’s beating heart that will power its future growth and development. It has demonstrated that if leaders and stakeholders can join together, whether under a single ownership or as a consortium, a city can stand out as a location that people will want to engage with.

Liverpool ONE has also inspired a new sense of self-confidence that the city can deliver major projects and meet its ambitions.