Nearly £35m plans to “revitalise Birkenhead” are expected to take their final step as Wirral Council plans to award two contracts.
Wirral Council is expected to appoint two contractors later this year to carry out construction work on two major schemes that would see the Birkenhead waterfront as well as its main high street developed.
The projects have funding of £34.5m made up of government grants, private sector investment, and active travel funds. £11.9m is set aside for changes to the Charing Cross junction at the top of Grange Road with part of Grange Road West reduced to one lane as well as new footpaths and cycle routes around Conway Street and Europa Boulevard.
£22.7m will go towards renovating the Birkenhead waterfront and the area around Hamilton Square which is made up of government Levelling Up and Town Deal funds, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority grants, and a £1.1m Wirral Council contribution. This will change the area around the Woodside Ferry Terminal with a new green space created.
Councillors are being asked for the local authority to move ahead with a framework that will see two contractors appointed by officers if that is approved on 22 January. This is crucial for the schemes as more than £2m has to be committed to the schemes with a contractor by March 2024.
A different route previously approved by councillors to appoint a single contractor for both schemes is now no longer recommended by councillors who said this would not be best value for money for the council. Wirral Council previously said it hoped to have a contractor appointed by the end of 2023.
The current route using the Procure Partnerships Framework and the Pagabo Framework will bring in “suitably qualified and experienced main contractors” who “will bring significant benefits and efficiencies to the process, will greatly aid project certainty, ensuring that funding deadlines are met, and the Programmes are delivered as efficiently as possible.”
Work has already started on this, despite no approval from councillors, to make sure contracts can be awarded in time. Following approval by councillors, Wirral Council’s Director of Regeneration David Hughes is expected to make the final decisions when it comes to appointing contractors with a need to “ensure that any delay does not lead to the bidders withdrawing their interest in the contracts.”
The local authority said going forward, rising costs and inflation may impact the total cost but “if cost increases do materialise, a combination of identifying potential value engineering solutions alongside seeking additional funding will be robustly explored.”
Image: Wirral Council