Former North West Development Agency chief executive Mike Shields is taking over the chairman's role at the Liverpool Land Development Company. He speaks to Joanna Booth
Have you always been based in the north-west?
Yes. I started off in local government planning departments. I've worked for the city councils in Newcastle, Durham, Nottingham, Leeds, Salford and Trafford. I spent 11 years as chief executive of Trafford Park Development Corporation.
You were the first chief executive of the NWDA.Was it a challenge?
It was the most exciting job I've ever done.
The regional agenda was a real blank canvas, and we had to define an economic strategy.The budget rose from £230 million to £430 million.We targeted certain sectors, some well-established, like the aerospace and chemical industries, and some emerging, like biotechnology.We've now built the country's only biomanufacturing centre at Speke.
What is the role of the Liverpool Land Development Company?
It was created in 2003 to implement regeneration projects in four strategic investment areas of the city that have been allocated European Objective One funding.We're focused on the physical - land remediation, provision of services - actually getting things built.
What are you working on at the moment?
Our biggest project is the East Lane one.
It centres on a highways scheme providing a much improved gateway into Liverpool from the end of the M62, and will regenerate that whole corridor.We're working with the housing industry, and the digital sector as it borders a large Marconi factory.
There will also be a science park. It'll be ready for the City of Culture's 2008 deadline.
Has the City of Culture title brought a lot of regeneration to Liverpool?
It's added to the dynamism, but it's not the only catalyst.There is 250,000 sq m of industrial space being developed in Liverpool in the 2000-2006 Objective One Programme.Public sector funding is £135 million for the next three years from the regional development agencies, English Partnerships, Europe and the City Council.
That can lever in substantial private investment.
The Merseytram scheme has had a rocky ride in recent months. Are you relieved to see it finally going ahead?
Funding has gone through for line one, but I'm particularly interested in the impact we'd see from getting all three lines open. It would open Speke up as an employment centre, and give a quick link to the John Lennon airport.
Liverpool City Council has made some controversial planning decisions recently, rejecting the Brunswick Quay scheme, and giving the go ahead to a brickcrushing plant.Do you think the right choices are being made?
They don't approve everything, nor should they. Central Government policy at the moment gives priority to housing market renewal areas.There's the inevitable consequence that it will channel work into those areas.