Wirral Council is expected to approve the acquisition of the Vue cinema in Birkenhead for around £7m at a cabinet meeting next week, as part of its wider investment in sites around Europa Boulevard.
Cabinet will be asked to approve a capital spending programme that includes the acquisition of the cinema and Birkenhead Market for £2.5m.
Although heavily criticised by the Conservative group within the council, Wirral believes that the cinema will be an income-producing asset, while the site is also strategically important. It sits at the heart of the Europa Boulevard area that is to house the central business district within a £1bn regeneration masterplan being taken forward by Wirral Growth Company, a joint venture between the council and Muse.
As outlined in the investment strategy statement within the report, the cinema’s purchase cost is listed as £6.8m, which with costs added has been rounded up to £7.1m. The council’s outlay on Europa Boulevard is listed as £8.8m and Birkenhead Market as £2.5m, with other investments tallying £12.7m, making for a total investment portfolio of around £31m.
The council said that it expects £5m income from its investments in 2019-20, adding that the Wirral Growth Company’s projections are for £50m income over the next decade.
A draft business case for the Birkenhead Commercial District was made in November, outlining plans for four office buildings, a new market, leisure facility and improved public realm.
Introducing the investment strategy statement section of the budget report, Cllr Janette Williamson, cabinet member for finance and income generation, said: “Without our investment activity, the borough would continue to decline and communities continue to be disaffected.
“However, through our investment and growth strategy we are able to regenerate the borough providing jobs and opportunities for local people that will in turn support our communities to thrive and deliver significant returns to support our revenue budget. This investment strategy statement underpins our approach to this.”
Wirral Growth Company is also proposing to progress public consultation on other phase one sites. These include Moreton’s Foxfield and Pasture Road, Bebington and West Kirby, as well as consultations with stakeholders for industrial property in Bromborough, all of which will go to inform future development plans.