Knowsley launches consultation amid housing concerns

The council will ask the people of Kirkby for their suggestions on a revamped town centre, after residents group Vision Kirkby drew up a detailed proposal that objected to further housing.

Since Knowsley Council acquired St Modwen’s assets towards the end of 2019 in order to start large-scale town centre regeneration plans, work has begun on phase one of a new retail development north of Cherryfield Drive, including a 45,000 sq ft Morrisons supermarket, KFC restaurant and a petrol station.

The start of work on the retail scheme has triggered the launch of the consultation which the council has had in the pipeline since November 2019.

Plans are also being drawn up for a cinema scheme on the corner of Cherryfield Drive and Webster Drive.

Both the retail development and cinema project are supported by Vision Kirkby, but the group disagrees that the former Kirkby College site off Cherryfield Drive, and land that was once occupied by All Saints Catholic High School, should be developed into residential to help the council meet its target of 8,100 houses by 2028.

The council bought the site of Kirkby College, which itself is relocating to the town centre, in January. The 27-acre All Saints site, off Roughwood Drive, is listed as for sale for development on the council’s website.

Dr Matthew Donnelly, chairman of Vision Kirkby, said: “Vision Kirkby believes there is a major threat to the existence of one of Kirkby’s largest central green spaces and the possibility of a large and sudden population increase in Kirkby, which could negatively affect the quality of life and availability of services for residents.”

Vision Kirkby has instead proposed a community sports facility for the Kirkby College site and a specialist technology park with “a mix of education, training, sports technology and wider technology business spaces”.

However, a spokesperson for Knowsley Council said no sites had yet been earmarked for housing and that the latest consultation, which opens on Thursday, would act as “open-ended question” to find out what elements would make up a healthy town centre.

The spokesperson also confirmed that the report formulated by Vision Kirkby would “feed into”, or inform, the consultation process.

Cllr Graham Morgan, leader of Knowsley Council, said: “We have always said we would seek the views of the local community on what it wanted to see in Kirkby. Now we have taken ownership of the town centre and kicked off the construction of the retail development, we are asking for views on what people think makes a good town centre.”

The three-day consultation will take place at St Chad’s Parade starting on Thursday.

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