Birkenhead market looks likely to relocate to the former Argos store in the Grange Shopping Centre. Credit: via Wirral Council

Birkenhead Market tipped for £13.7m move to former Argos

Moving to the Princess Pavements location is the only viable option, according to a council report.

Work will be required to remodel, refurbish and fit out the Grange Shopping Centre unit, which the authority owns, while making some changes to the external façade, and outside areas.

A raft of recommendations are being made to the council’s economy, regeneration and housing committee next week, to greenlight the 28,000 sq ft Argos option and budget.

Authored by Marcus Shaw, Wirral Council’s director of regeneration and place, the report explains the previously mooted scheme of relocating the market to a purpose-built hall on the site of the former House of Fraser Store is unaffordable.

The cost of delivering that scheme came to £31.6 million, with the budget for the Birkenhead Market project being £14m, drawn from the government’s Future High Street Fund for regenerating town centres.

Redevelopment of the House of Fraser site remains a critical part of the town centre regeneration delivery plan, as here there is a commitment to delivering a minimum of 89 residential units by March next year. That is a requirement of the brownfield land funding utilised to purchase the building.

An emerging shortfall, which could have a significant impact on the council’s financial position, has also been taken into account in making the recommendation.

Talks had been held with Birkenhead Market Traders Association with a view to exploring other options, either moving to St John’s Pavement, or refurbishing of part of the existing site.

According to the report, the council considered the largest unit on St John’s Pavement in the Pyramid shopping centre but at 17,500 sq ft, it is not big enough to deliver a modern market.

Refurbishing the current market would take too long, with an estimated completion of 2027, with the Future High Street Fund having a deadline of 2026.

Councillors will be asked to approve authorising Shaw to notify Wirral Growth Company, a joint venture between the authority and Muse, if it does not wish to proceed with the House of Fraser option.

If councillors go with the recommendations, the authority will procure and appoint a team to complete the design for the new market, put the build work out to tender, and progress any applications for planning, building control or highways approval required.

A consultation exercise with the public would also be undertaken to inform the design.

On completion of the revamped market, the old market would be decanted.

The committee meets on Wednesday, March 27 to discuss the recommendations.

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The whole lot needs to be demolished.

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