Wirral Council and Muse Developments have completed legal negotiations in order to form the Wirral Growth Company, a 50:50 joint venture created to take forward a £1bn regeneration plan across the borough.
The council selected Muse as its preferred development partner in March 2018 for the 10-year partnership, with the potential to extend for a further five years.
One of the first projects for Wirral Growth Company will focus on Birkenhead town centre, where there are plans to develop a business district of grade A offices, alongside retail and leisure, and extensive public realm.
The next step for Wirral Growth Company will be a full public consultation on initial plans, including traders’ and residents’ events, which is due to begin in May.
The timeline for the project has already slipped; at a launch event last summer, the council said it hoped the first planning applications would be in by the end of 2018, and reports to a cabinet meeting in November said a start on site was planned by spring 2019.
A change in Wirral’s political leadership is also imminent and could challenge the progress of the development. Council leader Phil Davies is due to step down ahead of the local elections in May, leaving a potential rift at the head of the council and Labour Group, while earlier this month deputy leader Bernie Mooney was deselected as a candidate leading her to suggest she was the victim of a “hard-left stitch up”. Political commentators are suggesting Wirral could become the UK’s first Momentum council. Although a hard left council is not expected to be pro-development, there are suggestions that Cllr Angie Davies, who has worked closely on the progress of the Wirral Growth Company, could take over from Cllr Davies as leader.
While Muse declined to comment on the political situation in Wirral, Mike Horner, development director at Muse, said: “This is the first step of a long journey to bring high-quality development and sustainable, transformational regeneration to the peninsula.
“We look forward to further strengthening our partnership with the council, as well as engaging with residents, businesses and other stakeholders as plans progress.”
Alongside Birkenhead, Wirral Growth Company will also look to bring forward schemes in areas such as Bebington, Moreton and Bromborough through a range of commercial, retail, leisure and residential developments.