Ambitious ‘levelling up’ plan to transform disused land into 1,600 homes

A “levelling up” plan to turn empty land into 1,600 homes could bring in £255m to the Wirral.

The figure was revealed during a Wirral Council economy and regeneration meeting where councillors discussed whether to approve £2.255m of borrowed funds to finance the ambitious development that could see the area behind Birkenhead Central Station completely transformed.

The committee approved the funding which will go towards developing the Hind Street Urban Village. The project sees the removal of two flyovers heading towards the Birkenhead Tunnel, new shops, primary schools, hotels, and new public spaces alongside up to 1,578 homes.

The planned development would be located behind Birkenhead Central Station on what is disused former industrial land off Hind Street.

Funding is expected to come from £25m from Homes England, a government body, with a further £16m from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. Officers also told councillors that £214m of private sector investment is also expected as a result of the plans.

The project is part of the local authority’s plans to completely revamp Birkenhead and the development site also runs alongside the edge of the proposed Dock Branch park.

A council report for the meeting said the project “will result in new investment in the heart of Birkenhead and will contribute strongly to levelling up in one of the most deprived areas of the country.”

The report added, “The scale and location of the regeneration area presents an opportunity to create a sustainable, market-changing urban village that helps to set a standard for future development in the face of the climate emergency.”

According to Wirral Council, the funding approved on 17 July will give assurances to both Liverpool City Region and Homes England whose funding will go towards the first two phases of the project.

A previous application linked to the development said it would be split into five phases with the first phases including “demolition of the existing buildings and structures and construction of residential houses and apartments as well as ancillary uses.”

It added, “The enabling works are proposed to take place mid-2024 with the first construction of new homes anticipated to commence quarter two (July to September) of 2025. It is anticipated all new homes will be completed by 2035.”

2023 will be a significant year for Wirral Council where it is expected to spend £86m on regeneration projects across the borough. Some funding for projects like new cycle lanes on Conway Street is required to be spent this year or it will be handed back to the government.

However, a review of different projects by council auditors has warned there are “significant risks and challenges” to the council, in particular over the Hind Street Urban Village.

In response to a question on the issue, the council’s chief internal auditor Mark Niblock said, “We know that Wirral has a significant regeneration development in play. That is very laudable but brings with it a significant amount of risk.”

Images: Wirral Council

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