Chris Pollett provides the lowdown on Liverpool


It has not been long since our last news out of Liverpool, but with lots to report we thought it best to capture everything in a catch up with regional director and office lead Chris Pollett – who has insight and opinions that should interest those from the area and beyond.

It’s been two years since you set up the Liverpool office, how are you getting on so far?

In summary, patience is beginning to pay off. New work is coming in more naturally and repeat business is becoming more common due to the relationships we’ve invested time in nurturing. It’s always going to be a challenge building a new network, especially somewhere as competitive as the North West, but it’s a relationship driven industry so things were always going to take time. Now, we’re in a position where we’re waiting for a few big projects to kick off in the region while still accommodating some satellite work to keep us nice and busy.

In our first 18 months, we delivered more than 60 projects across a range of sectors including industrial, logistics, education, retail and healthcare. Though our core offering is civil and structural engineering consultancy, we have also been involved in different services such as project management and surveys.

The business plan is on track and we continue to grow, which is good news for current staff and those interested in joining us. There are seven of us currently, so there is room to grow still without having to share desks!

What are your hopes and expectations for the region this year?

Starting with my expectations, I see industrial and logistics being a key growth area this year due to the shortage of suitable facilities. With our national experience and contacts, the emergence of sites supporting this sector will play to our strengths while creating more jobs for local people.

There is also a shortage of new build offices, which discourages some larger businesses from moving into Liverpool. This could be an area we will see grow, but who makes the first move? It’s a chicken and egg type situation between developers and potential tenants.

I expect tourism will continue to underpin economic success in Liverpool. The leisure and hospitality sectors are already hugely important and will no doubt continue to provide opportunity and stability.

Moving on to my hopes for the region this year and beyond, I would like to see bravery among the public and private sectors. There are two particular areas that I would like to see grow, these are tall buildings and affordable housing. There is of course context around why Liverpool is where it is on these fronts, but the regeneration potential is what they have in common.

Whether it’s the Manchester skyline or the volume of housing associations building new homes in the North West, there is activity nearby to provide encouragement and act as an example of what’s possible. As long as plans are purposeful and put the community first, there are reasons to be optimistic and Liverpool could be on the brink of an exciting new era.

What is the long term plan for the Liverpool office?

Though we will always be a national business with experts positioned strategically across the UK, our aim is for all of our offices to be autonomous – and Liverpool is no different. This means having professionals from our four key disciplines working collaboratively in each of our offices. For Liverpool, we need to build on our transport planning and ground engineering capabilities, with the latter being a more immediate priority.

We also want to continue securing a strong pipeline of project prospects through tactical bids too, such as our recent University of Cumbria framework appointment.

Why should people be taking notice of our growing presence in the North West?

Our size and growth are very calculated. We’re not the biggest and we’re not the smallest, but we remain agile, flexible and personable as we know these are qualities appreciated by clients and project partners.

It may not sound groundbreaking, but our team has an admirable work ethic and is driven by service, so our repeat business comes as no surprise to us. We’re always grateful for the opportunities we carve out and believe in the projects we work on, which adds to the excitement for everyone involved.

What advice would you give to others looking to invest in the North West?

It’s not an easy region to crack. Coming from the outside, it’s not straightforward but there is plenty of work up for grabs. Having moved from the East Midlands, some of the opportunities and challenges in big cities like Liverpool are familiar.

However, there are complex towns across the region – like Warrington, Wigan and Blackburn for example. These communities present further possibilities and deserve quality development as much, if not more so, than elsewhere. There seems to have been an uplift in national attention on these regional areas, but you have to read beyond the headlines and get involved in the conversations yourself – as this is how you can ask your own questions, find your own answers and bring forward your own solutions.

Where may people see you in the region?

I go to the events organised by Place North West where possible as I have found these to be interesting and well attended. There are events held by our contacts from time to time too, but I am always keen to hear about what else is taking place across Liverpool and the wider region.

We will be joining some contacts of ours at Aintree this year too, soaking up the atmosphere and hopefully some sun at a historic local venue.