The long-awaited public inquiry into the proposed £150m regeneration of North Liverpool's Great Homer Street by St Modwen and Liverpool City Council will take place in June.
A planning inspector will hear evidence for and against the compulsory purchase order requested by the council over four days starting on 19 June and then adjourning to 4 to 6 July.
Michelle Taylor, regional director of developer St Modwen, said: "The inquiry is a chance for the people of North Liverpool to tell the government that this scheme needs to be delivered. Project Jennifer has a strong chance of success but we need the community to help us demonstrate just how important it is to North Liverpool. We are therefore holding a series of public events in May to allow local people to leave their messages of support for the plans."
There are approximately 200 land interests across the 45-acre site. A Compulsory Purchase Order is needed to acquire all the land for the scheme. A number of objections were raised to the CPO, mainly from existing businesses in the area. The Government called an inquiry to decide if CPO powers should be granted. Liverpool City Council and St Modwen say they have already completed a number of successful discussions to relocate existing businesses before the CPO comes into effect.
There were 37 objections lodged at the end of the formal objection period, mostly where people were opposed to moving or the level of compensation. St Modwen said a number of deals have been agreed since the objection period closed.
The scheme has been planned since 2004 when St Modwen was appointed as preferred development partner by Liverpool City Council. If the CPO is granted, construction work could start by spring 2013.
If delivered, the scheme would include a 110,000 sq ft Sainsburys food store, 80,000 sq ft of additional retail units, 80,000 sq ft of light industrial units, 480 new homes, and 40,000 sq ft of community facilities, including a new market and community health centre.
Liverpool City Council will be presenting the case for the development at the Inquiry, with support from St Modwen and the scheme's anchor tenant Sainsbury's.
Taylor continued: "The local community have been very supportive of the plans all the way through the process, despite some frustrating delays, but it is now more important than ever that they make their voices heard.
"Project Jennifer has always been an ambitious plan which will bring widespread benefits to North Liverpool and act as a catalyst for future regeneration. The Inquiry is the final major hurdle and we are working closely with our partners to prepare a robust case."
Cllr Malcolm Kennedy, Liverpool City Council's cabinet member for regeneration and transport, said: "This is another key milestone for Project Jennifer and it's really important local people – who have made it very clear that they overwhelmingly back the scheme – make their views known, loud and clear.
"A huge amount of work, dedication and effort has gone into bringing the plans to this stage, and we have worked closely with local residents and businesses at every step of the way. We now want as many people as possible to play their part at this decisive time, so that we can make this vital scheme a reality."
St Modwen and Liverpool City Council's public events start on Thursday 17 May with two drop-in sessions at the Lifestyles Everton Park sports centre from 11.30am to 2pm and from 4pm to 6.30pm. The development team will also have a large presence at Great Homer Street market on Saturday 19 and Saturday 26 May between 9am and 12.30pm, which will include cooking demonstrations from the Sainsbury's 'Try Team'.