The conference focuses on next steps for infrastructure in Liverpool and will be an opportunity to discuss the development of the first Spatial Development Strategy for the City Region - expected to be finalised and published within the next two years - which will set out a vision for housing, infrastructure and climate resilience across Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton & the Wirral.
Key stakeholders and policymakers will discuss what the priorities should be for the Spatial Development Strategy in order to develop Liverpool’s infrastructure so that it can meet housing demand, address climate change and support regional economic growth.
They will also discuss what is needed from national infrastructure policy to support the region, with the Government’s Infrastructure Strategy due to be released later this year, including projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail.
Sessions will assess the progress of ongoing rail infrastructure projects, including Network Rail’s multi-billion pound Great North Rail programme of improvements, upgrades to the Halton Curve linking Liverpool with Cheshire and North Wales, and progress on HS2, as the Government announces a one-year delay on the Phase 2b Hybrid-Bill and following concerns as to whether a link to Liverpool will be developed.
The future of MerseyRail will also be discussed including potential new stations and the prospect of light rail being part of the Wirral Waters major regeneration project.
There will also be an update on road improvement and upgrade projects, as the NIC partners with Liverpool to improve local transport and reduce congestion on the city’s roads - cited by the National Infrastructure Commission as the second most congested outside London.
Delegates will discuss how new investment should be targeted, with the city region due to receive £172.5m from the Transforming Cities Fund and an extra £1.1bn announced in the Budget to be allocated to Mayoral Authorities on a per capita basis - and with the Mayor outlining a £500m Strategic Investment Fund to encourage inclusive growth and support infrastructure, skills, culture and housing.
Further sessions discuss early progress on the City Region’s move towards a low-carbon economy, following the announcement of a zero-carbon target by 2040 and the trial of hydrogen buses.
As the Mayor re-emphasises his plans to take forward Mersey tidal power, attendees will also discuss the role that the River Mersey can play in a low-carbon future, as well as the potential to decarbonise gas networks and deliver cleaner energy.
As Liverpool City Council grants planning permission for a £31.3m ferry terminal funded by the Isle of Man Government and agrees to fund a £7.6m link road, the agenda also looks at the future of Liverpool as a nationally important global trade hub, and priorities for the Port of Liverpool and multi-modal freight transportation. They will also discuss the role of the airport in providing Liverpool with an international gateway, as well as road and rail links to the airport.
The questions of how infrastructure can be utilised to support local economic growth underpins the seminar - with discussion expected on how stakeholders across housing, universities, businesses and the wider region can work effectively together to promote innovation.
Sessions will also consider housing priorities including housebuilding targets and best new sites following the Mayor’s Brownfield First approach and discussions planned with Homes England on establishing new sites for housing.