Council plans to spend £86m on regeneration this year

Nearly £86m is planned to be spent on the regeneration in Wirral over the next year.

Wirral Council said it expects to spend £85.7m between April 2023 to March 2024 according to a regeneration committee report. This is to be followed by an expected £17.1m in the next financial year and £2.5m the year after that.

The money is going towards various projects that seek to radically change parts of Wirral over the next two decades as part of Wirral Council’s ambitious regeneration plans.

The spending expected this year includes £22.9m of Future High Streets funding in Birkenhead, £12.4m towards a maritime research hub in Wirral Waters, and £2.7m in New Ferry to help revive the town after the 2017 explosion.

Money for the schemes comes from a number of government grants including the Town Deal Fund, Future High Streets funding, as well as sources like the Wirral Waters Investment Fund with spending expected to primarily take place in Birkenhead.

However concerns at previous meetings have been raised about whether the council is able to deliver these projects given funding deadlines for some schemes are fast approaching. For example, the cut off date for the nearly £25m of Future High Streets funding Wirral Council has received is March 2024.

After this the government could claw back some of the money.

This means some schemes such as changes on Conway Street and Europa Boulevard as well as a development there for 189 residential units may not be delivered if the council doesn’t appoint a delivery partner, secure planning consent, and achieve a start on site in time for these schemes.

At a regeneration committee meeting on June 20, Cllr Jo Bird asked about the new Birkenhead Market and progress there. Officers said there was no delay on the demolition of the former House of Fraser building and bids for demolition work had been received with plans in place.

The new market will be built in the building’s place and is expected to open in 2025. However, no date was confirmed for when a planning application for the market would be submitted or when demolition would start.

Officers also confirmed funding deadlines for a £1.3m cycle lane upgrade on Birkenhead Road had been missed but future funding for new cycle lanes had been secured from the Liverpool City Region.

Councillors also considered a proposal related to the Hind Street Urban Village though public and the press were excluded from this part of the meeting. A delivery plan outlining when projects are likely to be delivered is expected to come to the next regeneration committee.

Images: Changes to Conway Street and Europa Boulevard with new walking and cycle lanes are one of the projects being supported by government funding. Credit: Wirral Council

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