A special cabinet meeting convened by Knowsley Council will tomorrow consider a report on the purchase of Kirkby town centre from St Modwen, the developer having accepted an offer in principle.
Cllr Graham Morgan, leader of the council, said “Just a short time ago at the end of May, we announced our intention to make an offer to St Modwen to purchase their assets in Kirkby town centre. In just a matter of weeks, we have sought and analysed independent valuations of these assets, carried out constructive and positive detailed negotiations, and made an in principle offer to St Modwen. I’d like to thank the council officers who have worked so hard and well to get us to this point.
“We have received confirmation that St Modwen’s board has approved our in principle offer so on Friday I will be recommending that this deal is done so that we can take control of Kirkby town centre and deliver the regeneration scheme which our residents have been promised by the private sector for the last 20 years.”
St Modwen acquired large parts of Kirkby town centre from Tesco for £36m in 2015, the retail giant having originally intended to advance a development in partnership with a relocated Everton FC.
Since that time, St Modwen has demolished old buildings including an Asda store and a Gala bingo hall and taken forward plans for around 76,000 sq ft of retail along with a 45,000 sq ft Morrisons store, with contractor GMI being lined up in autumn 2018 to deliver. Retailers signed up include Home Bargains, with around 20,000 sq ft, and KFC.
St Modwen was also named as the council’s partner for a leisure scheme on the former town centre library site, having lined up Reel as cinema operator.
Morgan said in May that it had “become quite clear we need a different model,” adding that “despite major names being signed up, St Modwen remain extremely cautious and have still not confirmed a start date – we have waited too long and it’s time to move on”. A statement issued at the same time by St Modwen said that discussions, centred on the council and the developer working in partnership to deliver the project, were positive.