The long-awaited redevelopment of Kirkby town centre has been given a start date of December this year after St Modwen and Knowsley Council agreed a way forward for the scheme.
St Modwen bought the town centre plots from Tesco in 2015 for £36m, and secured planning permission for a Morrison’s supermarket along with a 20,000 sq ft Home Bargains and a KFC.
However, there has been little sign of work starting on site, despite demolition completing and the developer lining up contractor GMI to deliver the scheme, as revealed by Place North West last year.
This led Knowsley Council to step in in May this year, with leader Graham Morgan arguing Knowsley had “waited too long” for work to begin. The deal to buy the site was concluded with St Modwen in July, with the leader of the council criticising the developer for being “extremely cautious” to proceed.
Now, under the terms of the deal, a development management agreement has been signed with St Modwen which will allow works to begin next month on the £21.5m scheme.
Knowsley will still acquire the sites, which include land north of Cherryfield Drive, the St Chads Parade shopping centre, and a cleared development plot, but will enter into an agreement with St Modwen to deliver the planning permission it secured in 2017.
The agreement will leave St Modwen responsible for leasing further space at the development, while the developer will proceed as planned with GMI as contractor to deliver the scheme.
The council said it “had no option but to proceed” with the deal, “bound by the position of St Modwen which has existing exclusive rights over the sites, to ensure that the development is carried out without further delay which would be likely to result in detriment to the local area and local economy.
“There is no other site of equivalent scale in the town centre that can be delivered in the same timeframe at the same cost whether by private acquisition or by utilising CPO powers,” added the council.
“There would be little benefit in the council undertaking such a development from scratch in an alternative area as any new scheme would fail through competition with the current site.”
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.