The first significant regeneration project in New Ferry’s district centre has begun. Using part of the £500,000 Town Centre Fund awarded to them by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, the New Ferry Community Land Trust has commenced a refurbishment project in the former Shillings Pub at the junction of New Chester Road and Bebington Road.
Builders recently moved into the three-storey building – which had been empty for over three years – and will be converting it into two commercial units with four flats on the two floors above. The project should complete towards the end of the year, with bids for the flats and ground floor commercial space being invited in the autumn. The building, originally constructed in 1901 has a striking decorative stone and brickwork facade and is a key landmark within the community.
When the building is completed, occupied and earning rent, its rental income will be reinvested back into the community, paying for regular pop-up markets and events designed to bring visitors into New Ferry to support local shops, and also to help residents pay for and carry out environmental improvement projects in and around New Ferry.
A recent project to clean up local alleyways has seen the Land Trust assist residents with small grants to improve back alleys plagued by fly-tipping, whilst the Trust has also installed planters on the railings along New Chester Road in addition to the ones it has in the Bebington Road precinct.
New Ferry Community Land Trust’s Chair, Margaret Kegg said, “The start of the building works is a huge step forward for this community. We are now on track to deliver this fantastic scheme that will provide four new homes and two much needed commercial units.”
New Ferry’s district centre has remained resilient – even during the pandemic. Several new businesses have opened in the last 12 months including Greedy McCreadys, Antalya Barbers, Eastern Breeze by One Day Project, The Lunar Hare Crystals & Holistic Remedies, Family Pizza, and Georgia Desserts among many others.
Margaret Kegg continued, “New Ferry is like so many other traditional district shopping centres undergoing transformation in the post-digital economy. Some businesses now thrive better online, but there is also continuing demand for commercial space from smaller independent retailers who rely on face-to-face contact. The two new commercial units that our project will bring will be ideal for these type of 21st-century business entrepreneurs, providing newly refurbished space ready to move into.”
Addressing local housing need, Paul Kelly, Director of Breaking Ground – the Merseyside regional housing hub which supports community-led projects and is currently helping the Trust to write its long term business plan – said, “New Ferry is a popular location to live in. A recent project by Starship which brought three new houses to the community was inundated with enquiries about how to rent them, so these four flats at 2 Bebington Road will be extremely popular. The New Ferry Community Land Trust is keen to see that these homes go to local people who need them, whilst the rental income from the homes will be reinvested back into and will benefit the whole community.”
Amongst the projects to benefit from the New Ferry Community Land Trust’s support will be this year’s New Ferry Festival which will take place on 28th to 30th August, and will feature among many other attractions, two full-scale part original/part replica World War 2 aircraft – a Mark IX Spitfire and a Messerschmitt 109-E4 from the Battle of Britain. More details will be released about this exciting event later this summer.
The Trust’s refurbishment project is getting underway before a Wirral Council led multi-million-pound redevelopment project on sites affected by the explosion caused in 2017 by furniture store owner Pascal Blasio. The Council will be announcing who their development partner on the major project will be early next year.