The lowdown on Rockpoint Leisure

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Steady as a rock: the Rockpoint Leisure project aims to regenerate the British high street
Steady as a rock: the Rockpoint Leisure project aims to regenerate the British high street
Ahead of Manchester MA500 where he will be speaking about his new venture, Daniel Davies gives a preview of his Rockpoint Leisure project, which aims to regenerate high streets with retail and licensed sites.

What is Rockpoint Leisure?

Rockpoint is a private sector development and regeneration company, which uses hospitality and retail concepts to drive change. It is based in New Brighton on the Wirral, Merseyside.

The company is currently working on a large-scale redevelopment programme within the town’s Victoria Quarter to help establish it as a new, independent neighbourhood.

We’ve already purchased a number of empty and derelict buildings and we are working on a variety of retail and hospitality concepts that will benefit locals, as well as generating footfall from visitors.

We’ve embraced the neighbourhood’s existing proposition of being home to a variety of small but proudly independent businesses, building on what we already have, and are aiming to create a new cultural hub for the town – a ‘Brooklyn’ in contrast to Liverpool’s ‘Manhattan’, which sits just across the River Mersey from us.

Being mindful not to cannibalise existing businesses, we are looking to amplify and complement the bars, restaurants, shops and cafés that currently trade here – as well as delivering public realm improvements and a programme of year-long scalable animation and events to drive footfall to the area.

Rockpoint Apparel is our first retail outlet and has been trading since December last year. It brings together four established online brands in their own bricks and mortar store, stocking independent fashion labels.

Our first two hospitality concepts opened in March – the first of these, Habibi, is an ambitious, buzzy, east meets west venue, with hip-hop, kebabs and cocktails at its core.

Set on the road’s ‘town square’ and in contrast to Habibi, stands our second opening, the James Atherton pub – positioned as a ‘modern British tavern’, and which celebrates the
history of the town as a leading resort in the 19th and 20th centuries.

How do pubs play a vital role in regenerating the high street?

The James Atherton was a pivotal property to secure within the Victoria Quarter estate – pubs have always been a keystone to the community, and ours is no exception.

The site had been boarded up for over a year, the steel shuttering was contributing to the downturn of the road, with graffiti and fly-posters, making it an eyesore.

Working closely with pub owners, Punch CEO Clive Chesser and his team understood our vision, and we rebranded the site, bringing a fresh new concept to market.

The pub is designed to appeal to both the local community, tourists and visitors to the town. To me, it’s reminiscent of an age where there was a pub on every corner – super friendly, welcoming and accessible, with no airs and graces.

The pub is also home to a permanent collection of photographs of New Brighton, from the archive of digital heritage specialist Richard Jackson, and adds a cultural draw to the
pub’s offer.

What does the future of the business look like?

Considering the regional and national attention we’ve generated in a relatively short amount of time, we are confident that the project will get the support it deserves and cement Rockpoint’s name as a regeneration specialist within the sector.

Are there plans to roll the concept out anywhere else in the country?

I’ve got the appetite to look at similar projects across the UK. The House of Lords Select Committee on regenerating seaside towns and communities report, The Future of Seaside Towns​, was published last week (see report on p64) and includes the Victoria Quarter as a primary case study for other towns facing similar social and economic challenges.

I’d like to think that this would become a regeneration blueprint and we’d certainly welcome speaking to any other local authority or interested party.

What impact has the concept had on the area so far?

Overwhelmingly positive. One of the very first things we did when we formed Rockpoint was to open a street level drop-in centre for the local and wider community.

Having an open-door policy was vital to
allay fears and concerns that we weren’t a faceless or unsympathetic developer, but in fact were aiming to enhance and improve the neighbourhood.

To date, we’ve had around 450 visitors through the door, some of whom are keen to share their own ideas for the Victoria Quarter, others just wanting to thank us for our efforts and the change we’ve made to the area. 

Daniel Davies will be speaking at the next MA500 event in Manchester this month (16 May) at the Principal hotel. To register your interest please contact Stevie Robinson at fgrivr.ebovafba@jeoz.pbz​​ or on 01293 846508.

Related topics: MA Leaders Club

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