Wirral Council has been ‘highly commended’ at a prestigious national awards ceremony acknowledging its massive programme for regenerating Birkenhead.
“The Future is Birkenhead” – the council’s award application – outlined the vast programme of transformational regeneration across Wirral’s Left Bank area.
It has now been recognised in the LGC Awards 2022 after being highly commended within the Economic Support category. According to the LGC, 2022 saw a record number of entries across all categories.
Leader of Wirral Council, Cllr Janette Williamson, said, “It’s great to see the incredible amount of work which has been done – and continues to be done – now being recognised on a national platform.
“We have a hugely ambitious regeneration programme which is focused on working with local communities to deliver the change they want and need, and people can see we are delivering it. I have no doubt we will see even more acknowledgement of this in the coming years. Well done to the team and to our partners.”
Cllr Tony Jones, chair of Wirral Council’s Economy, Regeneration and Housing Committee, added, “This recognition from LGC acknowledges the huge amount of work which has gone into ensuring Wirral is in a position to deliver real economic change for the people of the borough.
“The panel believed this council warranted highly commended for its leftfield approach to its community-led regeneration, fitting for its place within its region and beyond.”
Wirral Council’s Assistant Director for Regeneration and Place, Sally Shah, said, “Achieving this highly commended recognition award from LGC for Economic Support is acknowledgement of the incredibly hard work by the Council’s Regeneration Service. This team has worked – and continues to do so – non-stop with businesses, local and national government, residents and all those with a stake in the borough’s future to develop and steer a programme of recovery, growth and investment of a scale, pace and significance not seen for generations.”
The Council worked with partners during lockdown in 2021 to develop and bring forward the Birkenhead 2040 Framework and also the successful Town Investment Plan. These documents set out an ambitious and hopeful future for the town.
The vision for Birkenhead in 2040 was developed with direct input from the community – residents, businesses and partners using innovative online engagement and the 2040 Framework reflects the values and aims they brought forward.
Uniquely the development and delivery of Wirral’s regeneration programme is supported and enhanced by a group of grassroots socially trading, culture and arts led organisations – The Left Bank collective. Craig Pennington from Future Yard CIC in Birkenhead is a founder member of the Left Bank Collective working with the local authority and also joined the panel to present Wirral’s approach and achievements to the LGC judging panel last month.
Craig Pennington said, “This recognition shows that people are seeing the work being done here and how the Council and grassroots organisations are working together to lead Birkenhead’s creative renaissance. There is still a lot of work to do but this shows people are seeing what is being achieved here.”
In recent years the Council has secured £100m+ of public funding from highly competitive government programmes including Future High Streets, Town Deal and Levelling Up Fund to help the authority in delivering a vibrant, mixed-use town centre, including a new market and homes, infrastructure, training and skills development as well as support for key heritage assets supporting our visitor economy and the emerging creative sector.
Projects range from the current construction on Phase 1 Birkenhead Commercial District, delivering 150,000 sqft of Grade A offices in a vibrant new, mixed use commercial quarter, to other major schemes such as the Dock Branch Park using a disused rail line to create an iconic linear park with arts, culture and heritage embedded within it including a new Transport Museum, plus delivering 1,000 new homes on sites alongside the park.
Construction is nearing completion on c.£12m Eureka! Science & Discovery world-class visitor attraction opening in Autumn 2022, attracting c.190,000 new visitors as the UK hub of science and discovery for young people while nearby the £4.5bn, 30-year Wirral Waters development is one of the largest private sector regeneration projects in the UK and is transforming former dockland.
At Wirral Waters the work ranges from the recently opened Hythe office development to Urban Splash homes and Miller’s Quay apartment led housing, to development of the Maritime Knowledge Hub in the Grade II-listed 19th century hydraulic tower building, which was built based on the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.
Other developments to support Wirral’s blossoming creative economy range from the Start Yard business hub aimed at start-up and young businesses, to attracting national attention for the Left Bank Collective, a group of grassroots Community Interest Companies championing arts, culture and music-led renewal, including The Future Yard music venue and co-working space and incubator for musicians and entrepreneurs in the creative and performance industries.
The LGC Awards 2022 took place on Wednesday July 20.