Wirral Council regeneration grant spending plans sent for government approval

Wirral Council has revealed how it plans to spend regeneration grants of £73.5m over the next three years.

The local authority recently sent a plan to the government detailing how it will spend millions of pounds in public grant funding before March 2026. These range from refurbishing a former Argos unit for Birkenhead Market, a new hub for a mental health charity, new public spaces, and redeveloping New Ferry town centre.

The investment plan, if approved by the government, will allow the council to take part in a trial where the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will give it greater control over how it spends public money on regeneration projects.

Wirral’s council leader Paul Stuart previously said, “Taking part in this pilot will help reduce bureaucracy and give greater ability to make decisions locally to ensure we are able to deliver the regeneration the people of Wirral want and need.”

Next year the council is proposing to spend just under £17m followed by £18.7m in 2024-25 and the remaining £11.3m to be spent by 2025-26. According to the local authority, all 23 projects are on track to be delivered by 2026.

Managing the £73.5m and 23 projects will be five full-time staff though the council said this is open to review. Concerns have been raised by councillors about a number of staff leaving the regeneration department over the last year.

Two projects are also subject to substantive change, including the £14m proposals for Birkenhead Market. The original plans for a brand new market after the Grange Road House of Fraser building was demolished is now “a longer-term proposal.”

Plans for a transport museum within the new Dock Branch park is also being reviewed as “increasing costs mean that this project is unlikely to progress in its current location.” Just under £400,000 has already been spent on this project.

Various projects are outlined for future spending including £3.8m to help create a well-being hub run by mental health charity the Open Door charity with “a vibrant and accessible environment where children, young people and families can access services.”

£1.3m will also be spent reusing floor space at Egerton House and over £1m on a music skills venue at Future Yard providing learning opportunities for young people. There are also plans to spend £1.4m for a creative hub on Argyle Street and £1.7m on a sustainability centre.

£2m will be spent developing a new public space around the Seacombe Ferry Terminal and Eureka! centre while £3m is planned around Hamilton Square to improve the area and create “landmark lighting” and public art.

Over £3m will be spent rejuvenating New Ferry more than six years after an explosion tore through the town centre destroying multiple buildings. Some of these improvements are expected to be delivered by September 2024.

At Woodside, £376,000 will be spent on the ferry village, £7.9m on a new ferry landing stage, £2.7m on a new U-boat museum, £4.1m to improve the bus station, and £4.6m to improve the gyratory for pedestrians and active travel.

189 new residential units will also be delivered using £3.3m in on Europa Boulevard in Birkenhead by December 2025, with another £3.7m going towards new cycle lanes and other public realm improvements nearby. Another £2.7m will also go towards improving the Charing Cross junction and Grange Road.

Image: How the new residential space at Europa Boulevard could look like under the plans

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