Wirral Council has put its plans for a £30m project in Birkenhead on hold, despite having worked with developer Neptune on the proposals since 2013.
The leisure-led scheme, which focused on an area around Europa Boulevard dubbed by the council as Downtown Birkenhead, would have seen the redevelopment of the Europa Pool site to create a cluster of family restaurants, a 66-bedroom Travelodge hotel around the Vue cinema, and a new food court.
Wirral Council first announced its partnership with Neptune Developments in 2013. A masterplan for the retail and leisure complex was approved by the council in 2015. A start on site was targeted for 2017.
However, according to a statement released this morning, Wirral Council has now “decided to look again” at the plans, and remains in negotiations with Neptune, but also a number of other developers.
It is understood that the intention to close the pool during the construction period had caused political debate within the council, and that a future redevelopment would look at other mechanisms to avoid the loss of leisure provision.
Cllr Phil Davies, leader of Wirral Council, said: “We’ve got huge ambitions for Birkenhead. We think it can be a fantastic destination for business, leisure and retail at the heart of the city region.
“Initial discussions about Europa Pools focused on moving the pool and building a food court, but as we explore more ambitious development opportunities in and around Birkenhead town centre, we have now decided to look again at our leisure offer in light of other exciting investments.
“Since we launched our vision for Downtown Birkenhead earlier this year, we’ve never had more interest from developers and investors. It has captured the imagination and we are excited about the future of the town.
“What the council has to do now is listen to these proposals, and make sure we turn them into one coherent and ambitious plan which will revitalise Birkenhead and create the jobs, economic growth and prosperity which we are so determined to deliver.
“Discussions continue with a number of developers and we are confident of having more to report in the future.”
Steve Parry, managing director of Neptune Developments, said: “We are aware that Wirral Council has decided to review the current proposals for the Europa Pool site based upon its own operational considerations.
“Whilst we are very disappointed by this given the Council’s decision to approve the scheme earlier this year, we remain in active discussions with the Council and are fully committed to playing a major role in the regeneration of Birkenhead working closely with the Council.
“As a local developer with a strong track record, we share Wirral Council’s ambition to deliver a transformational vision for a town centre with outstanding assets and potential.”