After 20 years of failed attempts at retail-led redevelopment in the town centre, GMI Construction has started work on behalf of Knowsley Council to create a 45,000 sq ft Morrisons, petrol station, car park, 20,000 sq ft Home Bargains and a KFC.
St Modwen bought the town centre site covering 12 acres and containing 87 shop units from Tesco in 2015 for £36m. The council bought the land from St Modwen for £43.8m in November 2019 after the developer had drawn up detailed plans and secured planning permission. Retail developer NewRiver is advising the council. The architect is Saunders. St Modwen is retained to manage the build contract having arranged the design and build prior to sale.
The council said the development will create 500 jobs alongside 278 jobs during the construction phase, helping to create a £15.3m boost to the local economy each year.
In addition to the retail development in the town centre progress is being made on plans to deliver a cinema and associated food and drink outlets on the former Kirkby Library site on Newtown Gardens. The council has also progressed plans to buy the Knowsley Community College site in Cherryfield Drive to enable the college to move to a new facility in the town centre.
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has committed £10m to support the redevelopment of Kirkby town centre and I’m really proud to see work now finally started on this much-needed development in an area where I grew up. It was a bold step for the council to take but one which I fully support.”
Leader of Knowsley Council, Cllr Graham Morgan, said: “We knew that Kirkby would only get the retail development it had been promised for years by the private sector if we were to step in and take control. That is exactly what we have done and I hope that our communities are reassured that it is finally happening. Today’s event is a milestone to show our communities that we are delivering on our promise.”