Council paid £10.5m for two Birkenhead shopping centres – £60m less than when they were last sold

Wirral Council spent £10.5m on purchasing two shopping centres in Birkenhead town centre.

The decision to buy the Pyramids and the Grange shopping centres was made at a Policy and Resources committee meeting on 27 April, subject to risk and compliance checks being carried out by council officers before going ahead with the purchase.

The purchase was completed in May but Wirral Council didn’t reveal how much it had paid for the shopping centre at the time citing commercial sensitivity.

The shopping centre was last sold for nearly £70m back in 2011 but according to a council report, £10.5m was used by the council to buy it in 2023.

The figure was in a report published ahead of an economy and regeneration committee in July. It said the figure related to a decision made by Policy and Resources on 27 April on a “recommendation by the Director of Regeneration and Place to acquire a location of strategic importance from a regeneration perspective, subject to the completion of satisfactory due diligence.”

Wirral Council purchased the shopping centre as part of its Birkenhead 2040 plan to revitalise the town. The purchase of the shopping areas includes the former Argos and Conway Street car park, Princes Pavements, Borough Pavements, and the M&S unit.

In May, Wirral Council’s Director of Regeneration and Place Dave Hughes said, “The council’s aim is to see new life breathed into central Birkenhead and we are confident that this ambition can be achieved through the Council’s local stewardship of the asset.

“Regeneration of Birkenhead Town centre and the income from the shopping centres will have wider benefits for Wirral services and regeneration of Wirral’s Left Bank area too.”

According to documentation seen by the LDRS, the gross income of the shopping centres is £3.355m with a net income of £1,155m. £1m of this income comes from ten stores but three of these leases are due to expire in 2023.

Wirral Council recently revealed it is reviewing its plans for Birkenhead Market at the old House of Fraser (Beatties) building on Grange Road following the shopping centre purchase. It is now understood to be planning a move of the market to the former Argos store within the shopping centres.

Economy and regeneration chair Cllr Tony Jones previously said, “The council remains committed to delivering a new market in the heart of Birkenhead town centre which will be sustainable and affordable.

“In May 2023 the council bought the Pyramids and Grange shopping centres which now present opportunities not previously available.

“If any changes to previous proposals are brought forward they will continue to meet the wider regeneration plans for the borough and Birkenhead, as well as undergoing full consultation, including full engagement with market traders, before any final decisions are made.”

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