Knowsley/Tesco revise Kirkby plans

Tesco and Knowsley Council have started drawing up new plans to improve the retail offer in Kirkby town centre following a fresh round of public consultation.

Plans for a new supermarket for Tesco and stadium for Everton FC were rejected at public inquiry in November last year.

The retail element of any new plan is likely to be scaled down compared to the initial proposals as the Secretary of State decided the impact of the proposed retail development would be unfairly damaging on neighbouring towns such as Skelmersdale.

In March, Knowsley Council sent consultation documents to every household and business in Kirkby asking people for views on the future development of the town centre.

The council this week said the findings are currently being compiled but early indications are that new retail facilities and a food superstore remain the top priorities for residents.

Nick Kavanagh, executive director of regeneration, economy and skills at Knowsley Council, is leading the project. He said: "Approximately seven out of ten people who responded to the consultation have ranked new retail facilities or food superstore as number one in their list of priorities for the town centre.

"These initial findings give us a very clear steer on what the community wants us to focus on delivering and we will be sharing this feedback with our partners, including Tesco."

Michael Kissman from Tesco said: "We are pleased that the council has had such a good response from the people in Kirkby and encouraged to find that so many people have listed retail as being the top priority for them.

"We remain committed to investing further in Kirkby town centre and to delivering the improvements to retail provision that the community say they want. We will use this feedback to now develop some exciting plans for the town."

Other issues arising from the initial analysis of the consultation forms are the need for better transport and the future of existing buildings in the town centre.

Kavanagh added: "As plans for the town centre remain undeveloped at this stage I do understand people's concerns and uncertainty about the future. However, I would like to assure the community that we have no plans to close or demolish either the council offices or Civic Suite.

"Furthermore, as a result of the feedback we have gathered we are now progressing with plans to demolish the former swimming baths which will hopefully clear the way for new development and improve the general appearance in the town centre."

The council plans to send a full report on the feedback to all households and businesses in the town in the coming weeks. Information will also be provided on the authority's website.

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