Wirral Council gives update on Moreton development

Wirral Council has given an update on a new development that will see a new Lidl built in Moreton.

The supermarket is part of a wider development that will see 45 homes built, improvements to the town’s library and youth centre, as well as 80 supported living apartments. It was given planning approval earlier this year subject to an agreement being made on terms of the development.

Councillors at a Wirral Council planning committee in April praised the scheme off Pasture and Knutsford roads for its comprehensive plans, proactive engagement with the local community, and social benefits to the area. They said it showed the local authority “can deliver large and complex regeneration schemes.”

It was one of several developments being scrutinised by the Planning Inspectorate, a government body, as it is a key development in the council’s draft Local Plan, a policy outlining developments over the next two decades and crucially involves no release of greenbelt land for development.

An update on the scheme came at a local plan hearing on 31 October and the scheme is being delivered by the supermarket chain along with the Wirral Growth Company, Wirral Council’s joint venture with Muse.

The land is being sold off in two parts to Lidl and developers Vistry by the Wirral Growth Company. Council officers told the planning inspectorate Vistry will then sell onto Alpha part of that land to develop the extra care housing.

To show it can deliver the thousands of homes required to be built in Wirral in its local plan, the council is having to present evidence about each of its projects and why they’re deliverable. This includes showing how it will build houses in the next five years.

Officers on 31 October said the new Lidl is “well advanced” and expected to be delivered in 2024 followed by the 80 extra care apartments and 15 homes in 2025 and then another 30 homes in 2026-27. This is a delay of about one year as the first homes had previously been expected to be built by 2024 and the whole scheme finished by 2026.

Brian O’Connor who is representing a number of developers challenging the plan said, “This site just shows what it’s like on the ground in the Wirral and the time scales we’re talking about to get planning applications determined.”

He pointed out the original application was submitted in 2022 and criticised the length of time it took to progress sites, adding, “The onus is on the council to demonstrate it’s deliverable whereas we’re just getting verbal updates.”

However Christopher Katkowski KC, a legal representative for the council, said, “If you look at the trajectory, we’re got these in effect bang in the middle of the five years so they could move or two years to the right and still be in the five years.”

He said the sites were as close as they could be without being completed, adding, “As far as we’re concerned, the evidence is perfectly good enough.”

The council was also challenged on whether it can deliver houses on a number of other sites including the former Foxfield School site in Moreton and Grange Hill Farm in West Kirby.

The plan is to build 35 homes on the farm but issues have arisen due to a covenant on the site as well as concerns raised by Historic England due to its proximity to the war memorial on Grange Hill. However Wirral Council argued the scheme was still deliverable by 2026-27 with a full planning application expected by December 2023.

Images: Artist’s impression of the plans for 66 homes in Moreton. Credit: Lovell Partnerships

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