New Brighton seafront scheme back on track

Neptune Development's plans for the regeneration of New Brighton's waterfront are to go ahead after the Secretary of State Hazel Blears decided not to hold a public inquiry into the project.

Campaigners including Wirral's Green Party wanted the £70m scheme to be stopped on the grounds that declining oil supplies meant local council offices should be discouraging oil for food transportation – and so should not back large supermarket developments such as the one planned as part of the project.

They also disagreed with plans to build the supermarket – which is key to the financial viability of the project – on the current site of the Marine Lake.

After their initial plans were rejected at a public inquiry last year, Liverpool-based Neptune put forward new plans with the supermarket being built on the site of the former outdoor swimming baths instead.

Now Neptune will need to submit detailed proposals for each individual element of the scheme, £8m of which has been funded by The Mersey Waterfront Initiative and the Objective 1 programme.

The non-contentious first phase of the project is already well under way, with the Floral Pavilion Theatre in the process of being rebuilt, and a new conference centre and exhibition space planned.

Outline planning permission has already been granted for the second phase of the seafront regeneration plan which will include a new 1,100-seater cinema, a Premier Inns-style 60-bed budget hotel, refurbished lake, open-air swimming pool or lido, family orientated restaurants, cafes and bars, and a large Morrison's supermarket.

Neptune also plans to dredge the Marine Lake so that it can be used for sailing, as well as creating suitable space for restaurants, supermarkets and bars. An indoor leisure centre and an indoor and outdoor pool and leisure club is also being planned on the site of the current model boating lake.

Cllr Pat Hackett, cabinet member for regeneration and planning strategy, said: "The hand of history is firmly on our shoulder as a new chapter and new page in New Brighton's history is finally turned over.

"At long last we can get on with the work to transform and revitalise the New Brighton waterfront. I would like to pay tribute to all those including former opponents who had the foresight and vision to see past the individual elements of the scheme and who, like me, realised that this will bring a lasting and improved economic landscape that will attract further leisure based investments to finally unlock New Brighton's potential as a seaside resort fit for the 21st Century."

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