The transformation of New Ferry has been given a boost with the announcement that a Wirral Council bid for funding from the government’s Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) has been partially successful.
Following a long application and assessment process, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy/Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government informed bidders of the outcome on Boxing Day.
While the £3.2m provisionally allocated to New Ferry falls short of the £4.6m the bid asked for, the investment will still significantly support and underpin the wider New Ferry regeneration masterplan, which is ongoing and will transform the town with a mixed development of 79 new residential units and nearly 11,000 sq. ft of retail space.
Cllr Anita Leech, Chair of the Economy, Regeneration and Development Committee for Wirral Council, said: “This is good news that we have been waiting on for a while and although the offer falls short of what was bid for, it is still to be welcomed. Residents and business-owners alike have told us what they believe are the issues that needed addressing to drive footfall back to Bebington Road and make the area more attractive. It is exciting that those plans can now move forward.
“With progress also being made on the wider regeneration plan, the future for New Ferry is looking positive, which is the very least this inspirational community deserves.”
The bid to the FHSF was designed to enable the council to proceed with planned developments to enhance the wider masterplan with public realm and highway improvements.
It included a scheme to partially reopen the currently pedestrianised Bebington Road to traffic and take away the barriers at the junction with School Lane so through traffic from the main New Chester Road would have access to the Village Hall and parking spaces within the retail centre of Bebington Road, as well as the new residential developments.
Short-stay parking bays would be incorporated into the highway improvements on Bebington Road to encourage further footfall to the businesses there and provide an improved appearance, with new benches, street lighting and landscaping. This would make the centre more attractive and accessible for occupiers, visitors and residents.
There were also plans to enable the council to buy and redevelop the site of the former Co-op supermarket on the corner of Bebington Road and the main New Chester Road, which currently consists of 20,000 square foot of vacant retail space.
The aim is to enable further residential development on this site, with a proposal for 27 new homes, including three-bedroom houses and maisonettes and two-bedroom apartments.
Council officers will be working to reassess the original bid so that the revised level of funding can be spent in the most effective way possible.
The council will also be seeking to appoint a development partner to deliver the wider regeneration plans in the New Year.