Liverpool City Region is to invest £10m and a potential further £5m in the long-awaited regeneration of Kirkby town centre, following the purchase of developer St Modwen’s assets by the local authority this year.
The £21.5m regeneration scheme comprises a 45,000 sq ft Morrisons supermarket, nine retail units, two drive-through restaurants, a petrol station and linked car parking.
St Modwen bought the site from Tesco in 2015 and secured planning permission for the Morrison’s along with a 20,000 sq ft Home Bargains and a KFC. However, the scheme suffered delays in its delivery, despite demolition completing and the developer lining up contractor GMI to oversee the build.
In July, Knowsley Council bought St Modwen’s assets for £43.8m, in what the council describes as its largest ever investment and the first time in the town’s history that the council has owned and managed town centre assets.
This week, Metro mayor Steve Rotherham announced that the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority will inject £10m into kickstarting the regeneration project. The authority has also set aside a potential £5m of additional funding to be deployed as the scheme progresses.
Cllr. Graham Morgan, leader of Knowsley Council, said: “The people of Kirkby have waited long enough for the regeneration of their town centre. The private sector has failed to bring forward the development it has promised for almost 20 years and that’s why we stepped in.”
The properties purchased by Knowsley in the summer include land north of Cherryfield Drive, the St Chads Parade shopping centre including 87 shops, and a cleared development plot spanning 12.4 acres of land. St Modwen continues to oversee the regeneration under a development agreement with Knowsley and will be responsible for leasing the retail units.
The city region combined authority said work on the new retail element of the scheme would commence next week. Meanwhile, 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 is also drawing up plans to purchase the Knowsley Community College site on Cherryfield Drive and facilitate the college’s ambitions to open a new facility in the town centre.
The entire regeneration project is expected to create 500 new jobs in Kirkby and contribute a £15.3m boost to the local economy each year.