Peel Holdings said it expects a decision from Wirral Council as soon as spring 2010 as it submitted an application to build 15m sq ft of mixed-use development on redundant dockland.
Peel said it had submitted the largest planning application in the UK for East Float, the main part of its Wirral Waters scheme, which would require investment of £4.5bn to build out.
East Float proposes 'a very sustainable and green high density and part high-rise regeneration scheme in the under-used Birkenhead Docks'.
Click on image gallery for a closer look
If approved – a public inquiry is likely given its scale and potential objections from rival landowners in Birkenhead town centre – the project would deliver offices capable of supporting 20,000 jobs. It would also include 13,000 homes aimed at a 'very diverse mix of people including families', plus leisure and culture facilities.
The scheme would take decades to build. Peel said it consulted extensively over the past three years and aims to help the community gain the jobs and skills they called for.
Lindsey Ashworth, development director of Peel, said: "This has been a massive, difficult and complex but exciting journey bringing this project together over the last three years to the point of submitting a planning application.
"We are in very difficult times and these projects take some resourcing in terms of staff time and finance but it has been worth the effort and expense.
"It is Peel's belief that Birkenhead Docks has huge potential in so many ways and Wirral Waters together with Liverpool Waters will completely transform the way the western end of the northwest goes about its business. It will redress the imbalance of the region and create what I would describe as a new super region that will further strengthen this as a destination for international business and as a place to live."
Wirral Council Leader Cllr Steve Foulkes said: "This is a significant step in our vision to regenerate Wirral. Importantly it is encouraging that even at a time of such economic difficulties we continue to make significant progress towards the delivery of our ambitious investment strategy. The challenge for us now is to ensure this exciting vision delivers real benefits for the residents and businesses of Wirral and indeed the wider region."
Earlier applications for smaller elements of the scheme were approved in August. The application for a retail and leisure park at Bidston Moss is expected in the first half of next year.
Peel is the lead sponsor of Liverpool's pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai next year and wants to promote Wirral Waters with planning permission at the event, which runs for six months from May to October. No application has been submitted for Liverpool Waters, a similarly ambitious scheme on the other side of the Mersey from Wirral Waters.
A team of architects works on Wirral Waters: Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, HKR, Skidmore Owings Merrill, and Glenn Howells.