A memorial hall in Wirral commemorating those who died during World War One will be demolished and replaced with 33 flats.
The Memorial Hall located next to Saint Luke’s Church on Mill Lane in Wallasey will be taken down after Wirral Council gave permission for it to be replaced with 33 new apartments on the site.
It was built as a memorial to those who died during the First World War but after being left to rot over 20 years, its new owners said it was too expensive to bring back into use.
The application had been submitted by a social housing provider but came to a Wirral Council planning committee on 9 November, after 129 objections were received concerning traffic, noise levels, loss of privacy, and the importance of the memorial hall. 35 people supported the scheme.
Mark Johnston, representing the Aspiration Trust that own the entire site, said they bought the memorial hall two years ago after turning around the church next door, adding, “Sadly 20 years of neglect and being empty, we purchased a building in a really poor condition.
“The roof’s been broken down, there’s dry rot, wet rot, asbestos, there’s no heating system, there’s no services attached to the building.”
He said the building had been targeted by anti-social behaviour and used by “rough sleepers” and if they were to bring it back into use, it would cost them more than £2m. He said this was before recent rises in inflation.
Despite being a memorial building, Mr Johnston said, “It’s long since been a fitting memorial to those people because it’s just a derelict building now.” The memorial plaques in the hall have since been taken out and placed within Saint Luke’s Church.
He said the foundation stone of the building would become part of a new memorial garden that would be open to the public, adding: “This would be a much more dignified and appropriate remembrance and hopefully it will help with some of those people who are rightly upset about its loss.”
Mr Johnston said the development will feed into “an uplift of the whole area,” adding, “Our goal has always been to put some affordable, sustainable housing onto the site. The area is on the cusp of what’s happening, the exciting things that’s happening down on the docks.”
Though councillors expressed some concern about the amount of space in some apartments, it was highlighted it provided housing on a previously developed site and it would be hard to bring the hall back into use. It was also pointed out trees are now growing out of the roof.
The application was unanimously approved subject to an agreement being made with the developer within six months on affordable housing and recreational pressure on the surrounding area.
A house at 11 Caldy Road in West Kirby will also be demolished and replaced with six apartments despite some local opposition after an application was approved.
A gate will also be restored, a new carport and a new terrace built and a rear extension will be demolished at 71 The Village in Bebington after that was also approved.
A previous version of this article reported the application had been submitted by social housing provider Magenta Living. This error was due to a 9 November Wirral Council planning committee report stating Magenta were the applicants. Magenta had previously been in discussions with applicant SEP about the scheme which ended 18 months ago.