Secretary of State visits key regeneration site in Wirral
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove paid a visit to the major office development underway in Birkenhead town centre.
The Secretary of State for Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) was in Merseyside to speak at the Convention of the North event in Liverpool but made time to see the major regeneration underway in Wirral.
More than £98 million has been secured towards Wirral Council’s ambitious regeneration programme in the last year.
This includes £25m which was awarded through the Government’s Town Deal scheme, as well as £24.6m from the Future High Streets fund to support the transformation of the town centre. A further £8.3m has been granted by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to support the removal of the flyovers into the town and more recently Wirral Council was awarded £19.6m from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund to transform the waterfront at Woodside.
Mr Gove visited the town centre site of the two new offices totalling 150,000 sq ft being developed in Birkenhead, meeting the Leader of the Council, Cllr Janette Williamson and leader of the Conservative group Tom Anderson, along with Wirral council director of Regeneration and Place, Alan Evans, along with Development Director, Mike Horner and Project Director, Jonathan Ashcroft, both of Muse Developments, the council’s Wirral Growth Company partner. Morgan Sindall Construction is the main contractor for the office development.
Wirral Growth Company is a 50:50 joint venture partnership between Wirral Council and national urban regeneration specialists, Muse Developments, developing the new town centre office blocks.
The Secretary of State was given an overview of the town centre development before taking a short tour of Birkenhead town centre.
The Government’s Future High Streets Fund is providing financial support to the new sub-station for the Town Centre to provide power, new public realm and the Conway Street Crossing. It will also be funding a new Market development moving it from where the market is currently located onto the site of the former House of Fraser department store.
Although the offices are being funded through private sector investment (Canada Life) one of the two buildings will be leased to the council for its staff, with the other building providing much-needed new Grade A office space within the heart of the town centre.
The council will move staff from 11 buildings into the new offices, allowing costs to be reduced, including energy efficiency, and obtaining capital receipts for sites no longer needed.
In addition, the new footfall into Birkenhead town centre from the new offices, along with other initiatives, will support the overall strategy to address the decline in the Town Centre. The Secretary of State was also briefed on the progress of the Local Plan, due to go to Full Council on March 21.
Leader of Wirral Council, Cllr Janette Williamson, said: “We were pleased to welcome the Secretary of State and show him the fantastic progress the council is making in the regeneration of the borough, including seeing the start of the works on the town centre offices. The regeneration of the town centre is a key plank of the wider LeftBank ambitions for Wirral which includes Wirral Waters in the dockland area, where new residential and office developments are coming forward as well and development and improvements from New Ferry via Seacombe and Liscard to New Brighton. The scale of the work getting underway shows how we are delivering massive regeneration across the borough for the benefit of the people of Wirral.”
Mike Horner, Development Director at Muse Developments, said: “Working collaboratively with the public sector for the long-term is essential to driving transformational change that brings investment and with it, community opportunities, to truly level up towns and cities across the country.
“It was great to host the Secretary of State and show him around the Wirral Growth Company scheme, to show him first hand a real positive example of regeneration that’ll deliver tangible benefits to the community.”