Wirral's independent local news website
Birkenhead is set to be transformed thanks to a major £24.6m grant from the Government.
The award, announced today by the Future High Streets Fund, will bring about substantial change in the town centre including new housing, an attractive retail offer, a modern, purpose-built market and a mix of diverse arts and cultural facilities, in addition to making it a much easier place to access for local communities.
Wirral Council submitted the bid alongside 50 other towns and its proposals were not only assessed against the other applicants but they also had to undergo a rigorous evaluation to prove they will be value for money and will generate economic benefit in the area. Being awarded the funding is considered a significant achievement for Birkenhead.
Chair of Wirral Council’s Economy, Regeneration and Development Committee Councillor Anita Leech said, “This is such fantastic news for Birkenhead. The size of this grant is going to enable us to do so much. This is not about adding a lick of paint, this is about delivering fundamental change within our town centre.
“The transformation will have sustainability at its core and the funding will enable the specific projects which we have identified to progress at pace, as well as paving the way for other developments to take place, creating a genuine synergy amongst emerging schemes within the town centre.”
She added, “We have ambitious regeneration plans for Birkenhead and the borough and we are already making tangible advances in the town centre with the purchase and imminent demolition of the vacant Milton Pavements area. The addition of the £24.6m Future High Streets Fund will continue that momentum and will make the future of Birkenhead a reality.”
With the award now confirmed, the next step for the council is to define a phased approach to begin the individual projects, including design and meaningful consultation, working hand-in-hand with expert partners at Wirral Growth Company, the 50:50 joint venture between Wirral Council and national urban regenerator Muse Developments, before engaging the local communities to ensure they are aware of the development schedule.
Mike Horner, Development Director at Muse Developments, said, “The news that Birkenhead has been awarded nearly £25m through the Future High Streets Fund is a ringing endorsement of what we’re collectively looking to achieve, both in the town centre and the wider peninsula.
“It’s all about sustainably transforming homes, lives and communities in the area, by driving economic growth, local opportunities and social prosperity at a time when it’s needed most. This grant will support our innovative proposals as we look to deliver change at pace but importantly, in partnership.”
Work is likely to begin on possible projects next year, aiming to include:
– significant investment into the future of the market, set in the heart of the commercial district, which will provide a key destination, accessible by foot, car, cycle and public transport. This area will be one of the main drivers of the regeneration of Birkenhead town centre and will be a major attraction to increase the visitor economy and change the night-time offer.
– a number of projects which have been identified to address the over-engineered road network and to improve pedestrian access. These will simplify and enhance key access points into the town centre, including Conway Street and Charing Cross. In addition, the main high street itself, at Grange Road, will see improvements to communal public areas.
– a residential development providing over 180 new homes at Europa Boulevard, delivered by Wirral Growth Company, which will bring further diversification in the town centre and will increase the catchment area for retail and leisure facilities.