I AM really excited to hear about Sefton Council’s ambitious £100m plans for Bootle town centre. Under the investment framework outlined by the council, Bootle could be transformed by the arrival of canal-side bars and restaurants, a hotel, 15,000 sq ft of new start-up space, 80 new houses and apartments, a new healthcare centre, expanded higher education facilities and an improved Town Hall complex. The plan would see the town divided into zones; retail and office space in the north and learning and culture in the south, anchored by enhancing existing sites such as The Strand shopping centre, Hugh Baird College and several high quality office buildings, including our own St Hugh’s on Stanley Road. What excites me most about the plans is that it’s an opportunity to maximise Bootle’s existing resources, such as the canal and its proximity to Liverpool and the docks, to improve the town’s fortunes and banish any lingering negative preconceptions that may still be attached to it. 100 or so years ago, Bootle was a very different place; the home of countless merchants and other wealthy businessmen associated with the bustling docks nearby. The array of beautiful Georgian mansions, ornate churches and magnificent parks that line streets such as Merton Road, Trinity Road and Hawthorne Road are testament to this glorious past. One could certainly argue, therefore, that the town is long overdue a chance to regain its status as a desirable location to live, learn and do business. This could be a unique opportunity to once again observe the town’s motto, Respice, Aspice Prospice – look to the past, the present, the future. Framework documents such as this are important as they give clarity and understanding to would-be investors about future plans for the town. It should also give them confidence that the powers-that-be are ready to talk and the town is open for business. The idea is to get people excited about what’s happening and make them want to be a part of it. It’s certainly worked on me. Pall Mall great but more needed GLANCING around Liverpool’s skyline, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we have more than enough office buildings to keep us going for at least a few more years. Indeed, earlier this year the city recorded lettings in excess of 100,000 sq ft for two consecutive quarters; the first time it has achieved that feat in more than a decade and great sign of business confidence. However, in spite of this promising trend – and in some ways because of this trend – office space is in increasingly short supply in the city and there is a potential for us to have a shortfall in the coming years. This is especially the case with Grade A stock, which is the highest-rated, new-build space, and it could have ramifications for the whole city region. For Liverpool to continue to prosper, we must have attractive, contemporary places for businesses to either grow or move in to. You can have all the great ideas, infrastructure and investments you want, but if those companies don’t have a place to call home in Liverpool, they’ll simply go somewhere else that does. That’s why the city council’s recent announcement about its development plans for Pall Mall was so welcome. It wants to create a major new office building to accommodate hundreds of staff on the site and has launched a Europe-wide search for a developer to build the 400,000 sq ft development. It’s great to see the council has firm plans to develop the plot into Grade A office space, while the scheme could be worth £200m and create as many as 1,000 jobs. However, this won’t solve the whole problem of Liverpool’s office shortage. Unless we can improve our broader development pipeline, we will find it difficult to service the needs of potential inward investors who may be looking for in excess of 50,000 sq ft grade A space, not to mention existing city businesses looking to expand.