Wirral Council unveils ambitious plans for growth

Demesne Street – artists impression only, created by Atelier 2 Architects

Wirral Council announced earlier this year it is creating Wirral Growth Company, a joint venture partnership to drive regeneration and economic growth across the borough.

 

The competition to find a private sector partner is underway, but we asked Phil Davies, Council leader what this could mean for New Brighton.

“As Wirral residents know – we are fortunate to live in one of the country’s great locations. Wirral is one of the UK’s largest urban boroughs, close to Liverpool, Chester and Manchester, but with an unrivalled mix of beaches, rolling countryside, independent towns
and villages and popular leisure and visitor attractions.” said Phil Davies.

“Wirral Growth Company will look to leverage the more than 1900 assets the Council controls, matched with private sector investment and expertise, to bring new developments, businesses and jobs to Wirral.

“The Council has launched a competition to find the best private sector partner, and hopes to have concluded this search by early 2018.

“We are asking potential investment partners to give us their ideas for regeneration and how they would suggest we use the assets the Council owns to drive growth, create new jobs and improve the economic fortunes of Wirral.

“For a town like New Brighton, we want to see a continuation of the great work that has occurred since the Marine Point redevelopment, adding to the visitor attractions in the town but also strengthening the amenities and facilities available to local residents too.” Said Cllr Davies.

Tower Grounds – artists impression only,created by Atelier 2 Architects

As part of the process to launch Wirral Growth Company, urban planners were asked to propose ideas – including an eye-catching design for a new tower in New Brighton. We asked if the return of New Brighton tower was in the Council’s thoughts.

“The documents used at the launch of the Wirral Growth Company have really caught the imagination of not only local residents and businesses but also many of the nation’s development and investment firms.” Said Cllr Davies.

“We asked a question about New Brighton – “How do we drive the next phase of regeneration in New Brighton to make the most of its unique character and heritage? and wondered, “What kind of new housing, attractions and architecture do we need to bring to new life and energy to the town?”

“The image of a tower in New Brighton has certainly caught the imagination, and whether that is something that comes to pass we will have to wait and see, but it has definitely started a conversation around the town. I have heard other calls for the return of the Pier and ferry service and the open air baths. There are lots of ideas out there.

“Today, tourists and visitors contribute more than £400million to the Wirral economy. We want to increase that further and have exciting plans for a new Golf Resort in Hoylake, new leisure and cultural attractions on the Wirral and of course the continued growth of New Brighton as a 21st century seaside attraction.

“We see £1billion of development opportunities across the Wirral – around half of which is in Birkenhead town centre where we expect to see plans come forward to improve Hamilton Square, rejuvenate the market and shopping districts and create a destination in its own right in Woodside on the Mersey waterfront.” said Cllr Davies.

Clearly, these are exciting time for Wirral. But there have been plans for the regeneration of the borough before, and sadly, too often, little has materialised. What is different this time?

“You are right, these are exciting times.” Said Cllr Davies “That is why we are creating the Wirral Growth Company – we recognise we need a new vehicle to deliver all the ideas and aspirations we have.

“In the past, Councils have sold assets to developers. This generated a quick capital windfall but little in the way of long term revenue streams. By creating a joint venture with a development partner, Wirral gets to share the risks and rewards of these developments,
generating much needed sustainable income so the Council can re-invest those funds in our communities and essential services.”

“The Council retains control over the assets and by virtue of being a 50/50 joint partnership also has a share in the decision making about what gets built and when. Development through the Wirral Growth Company will happen at pace, there will be no sitting on the assets or
“land-banking” as can happen with other developers and investors.

“It’s also important to see this in light of the challenges the borough faces – ongoing cuts to our budget, rising demand for services especially for an ageing population – we have to unlock the potential of the whole borough, it is a chance to re-imagine and remake Wirral.”
said Cllr Davies.

Read more about Wirral Growth Company at

www.wirralwellmade.com

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