Residents and businesses of Wirral are being asked for their views and suggestions for the proposed transformation of an entire town.
An eight week consultation starts this Wednesday, March 24.
The proposals are outlined in a major document called the Birkenhead 2040 Framework. This has been put together based on what residents and local businesses have told us is important to them, including consultation on Wirral’s Local Plan in 2020. It is proposing the most radical changes to Birkenhead since the 1947 Town Plan, making the most of its history and heritage using William Laird’s town grid which he laid out around Hamilton Square almost 200 years ago.
The proposals, representing one of the most aspirational regeneration programmes in the country, will see Birkenhead finally given a new lease of life after struggling for decades. The vision is for a town which many more families and businesses will choose to call home, and one which is designed for a healthy, safe and fun childhood.
At the heart of the proposals is the creation of more family-friendly neighbourhoods including the development of new homes, parks and green spaces. This includes a beautiful new park along the route of the disused Dock Branch railway, one of the first rail lines in the country, which will bring to life a long-neglected part of the town’s heritage.
Importantly the proposals will open up the Mersey waterfront, Birkenhead’s hidden gem, as a major visitor destination with its unrivalled views to the Liverpool skyline, and re-connect it to the revitalised town centre.
The currently vacant site around the Hind Street area will be transformed into a low-carbon urban garden village of up to 1,000 new homes. Funding has already been secured to remove the two flyovers to the Queensway Tunnel in order to open up a new pedestrian-friendly connection between the town centre and the new Hind Street community.
The 2040 Framework will support the Council’s Climate Emergency commitment through investment in improved walking and cycling routes, a new Mass Transit system to link key development areas into the Merseyrail network, and a potential District Heating Network providing low-cost heating to new developments across the town.
There will also be a focus on diversifying the local economy building on the successful manufacturing, maritime, digital and creative sectors, improved connections within and to the city region, and ensuring all are able to benefit from the wealth that is generated.
And through delivery of the Commercial District the Wirral Growth Company and the Council are committed to bring more people back into the centre to support local shops. This work is already moving forward – demolition work to underpin revitalising the town centre is progressing at Milton Pavement and work to temporarily move the historic market is underway so a new modern home for it can be built.
Working with the Council, Peel Land and Property’s excellent progress at Wirral Waters over the last year has given a major boost to the regeneration plans as people can see changes taking place on the ground. This includes development underway for new housing at Northbank, Urban Splash building their new House Pavilion as part of their joint venture with Peel, and the high-quality transformation of Tower Road.
Regeneration of the area will be given a further boost when Eureka! the National Children’s Museum, will open Eureka! Mersey a world-class Science and Discovery Centre, in Seacombe in July 2022 expecting to attract 187,000 visitors a year.
Councillor Anita Leech, Deputy Leader and Chair of the Economic Regeneration and Development Committee, said: “In drawing up this vision we started by asking people what they would like to see that would really bring new life to Birkenhead, and we have listened to what they have told us. We know that we need to move forward quickly and work has already started in the Town Centre and at Wirral Waters. We are keen to hear your views so that we can continue to move ahead with the regeneration proposals. We would like you to look at these proposals and tell us what you think. Do you have ideas you would like to contribute or examples of good practice from other areas you would like us to look at? Please take this opportunity to let us know.”
“This will be an eight-week initial consultation and due to the pandemic will be almost entirely online. We will use the Birkenhead 2040 Framework to support the development of Wirral’s Local Plan. This will focus on redeveloping brownfield sites on the east of the borough to meet our housing needs.”
“But this consultation will not be the end of the discussion – we will be continuing to ask people to tell us their views, and hopefully when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, or sufficiently lessened, we will be able to hold face-to-face events too. Listening to what people want will be at the heart of this to make sure we deliver a town people want to live and work in and can be proud of.”
You can find out more at our online consultation portal Wirral Have Your Say (https://haveyoursay.wirral.gov.uk) where there is the full Birkenhead 2040 Framework document, or for those who want a shorter version there is a Summary document. In addition, there is a short video explainer as well as a questionnaire which will allow you to tell us what you think of this vision, if you have more ideas, or if you would like to get involved.
Consultation opens on Wednesday, March 24 and continues for eight weeks.
Main image shows the Dock Branch Park at Argyle Street.
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