Milton Pavements
Much of Milton Pavements is currently vacant. Image from Google.

Wirral steps in to buy Birkenhead’s Milton Pavement

Charlie Schouten

The council is set to agree a deal to buy part of the Pyramid Shopping Centre as well as transferring the ownership of Birkenhead Market to the Wirral Growth Company, in a bid to revitalise the town’s high street.

Next week, the council’s cabinet is set to sign off the purchase of the Milton Pavements from the Mars Pension Fund, which is looking to reduce its exposure to retail assets. AEW UK manages the centre on behalf of the pension fund.

The Milton Pavements, forming part of the wider Pyramid Shopping Centre, includes a number of multi-let retail units with a mix of occupiers including the British Heart Foundation and Betfred. Of the circa 20 units included in the site, many are vacant.

By buying the property, the council said it would “obtain greater control of the town centre and ensure that future developments on this site have a positive impact in terms of placemaking and broader regeneration of the area”.

Current proposals on the table include the demolition of the Milton Pavements, with a public consultation on the site’s future set to follow.

Draft heads of terms have been agreed between the council and Mars have been agreed; this also covers a single unit at 13-15 St Werburgh’s Square, which will provide access to and from the site.

The council said it would look to take vacant possession of the Milton Pavements site, with a valuation of the plot for redevelopment currently being undertaken. Funding for the purchase will come from a wider £20m pot to be used for strategic property acquisitions by the council.

At the same meeting, the council is also due to move forward with the redevelopment of Birkenhead Market by transferring its ownership to the Wirral Growth Company, a joint venture between the council and developer Muse.

This will allow the market site to be redeveloped into a food, drink, and leisure offer, along with a refocused market dedicated to fresh produce and local goods, along with a commercial district. This forms part of a wider £1bn deal with Muse, which could include up to 300,000 sq ft offices.

As part of the same deal, the Allport Lane car park will be removed from the Wirral Growth Company’s development brief following local opposition, with a number of objections coming forward against the site being built out.

All three deals have been recommended for approval by the council’s cabinet next week.

Cllr Tony Jones, cabinet member for regeneration and growth, said: “We want to create ambitious and prosperous communities. Given the well reported decline of the high street nationally and a challenging retail market, it is the responsibility of the council as long term stakeholder and investor to take greater control of the area and ensure that future developments have a positive impact in terms of placemaking and broader regeneration.

“Our plans for economic growth are about creating community wealth. They’re about creating opportunities for local people, regenerating our commercial areas and inspiring ambition. Prosperous communities are happier, healthier and better places to live.

“It specifically focuses on our vision and ambition to see Birkenhead, once again, become a thriving town with neighbourhoods of choice and a strong commercial heart, generating footfall and visitors alongside a revitalised retail and leisure provision with new streets and squares.

“The regeneration of the town centre is a long-standing priority for the council and was the original backdrop to the formation of the Wirral Growth Company.”

Your Comments

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Build nice new residential units, and create a vibrant new ‘live, work, play area’. If you could do this around St. Werburgh’s Square too you could create something special around the old church. At the same time keep focusing on moving tourism and leisure facilities towards Woodside. The market really should move there too!

By Liverpolitan

Regeneration is the game, lots of exciting new offices and footfall increases for us traders.

By Ozzy

Think it’s about time they did something with Birkenhead town centre the decline of it has been awful watching it go on

By I Matthews

It’s about time the market is a disgrace we use to have coaches from Wales on a wed and sat now most stalls have closed

By Lesley matthews

Fantastic idea, I worked in the old market till it burnt down………..and the new market for a short while too. Fantastic community spirit in both

By Peter Walsh

All these new companies owned by WBC !!!
Who benefits……us the council tax payers or the WBC pension fund ???
Giving loans to other Councils at 0.2% interest is crazy. Why not discount & reduce Council Tax to those that pay IN FULL ????
Yet another scam to make more pension fund money using our money. Well done WBC

By Col

Great to see movements at last this should trigger full regeneration and show intent of Wirral Council, this new leader model must be working

By Frank

Waste of council tax payers’ money which could be spent much more wisely elsewhere. Birkenhead can’t compete with Liverpool and Cheshire Oaks. It’s an unpleasant place to visit with so many unsavoury people accosting shoppers, particularly outside the “old” Beatties store.
Flatten the precinct and surrounding area and build affordable housing with a some grassed areas instead of throwing good money after bad. If we have to wait 10years or more for something positive to be done to renovate and revitalise the area, as with the “waterfront project” around the docks, the place will be in ruins……
Used to be such a vibrant place, especially Grange Road at Christmas…lovely memories and just so sad to see it’s demise.

By Pisces49

Would it not make sense to try to get traders in by offering reduced rents may stimulate businesses wanting to trade in the market creating footfall instead of having high rents few stalls and low footfall?

By Anonymous

The Pyramids have been trying to fill these voids for many a year without success, we see great decline in the retail industry regardless of its location this is just the economy dealing with it – shopping habits have changed fact!!. Demolish, rebuild, revitalise the area with new business and then the clientele will change, its up & coming Birkenhead watch this space.

By Harry

Yes Wirral borrow millions at 6/7% and lend £50m to other LAs at 0.2%. Abs numpties. Disaster written all over this.

By Bazza Turnbull

It’s a great shame for you Col that you clearly don’t know the facts of this or understand local government finance.

The Wirral Growth company is a JV. Its not a company ‘owned’ by the council as you have suggested.
Wirral is the administrative body for Merseyside Pension Fund who manage the local government pension scheme. It’s not the ‘WBC pension fund’ It has no influence on the investment decisions the fund makes. MPF is a very successful pension fund.
Like all local authorities, Wirral has money for capital projects and other programmes that might not be needed until future years. It’s money that has been borrowed but is sitting in a bank account until it’s needed to be paid. As such the council can make some profit by lending it to others in the meantime and getting a slightly better return than the bank would offer. This profit element can be used to run services as its classed as revenue whereas capital funds normally can not. It’s a sensible way of making money go further.

By FF

Typical Labour party logic. Tear down and put more expense on the Borough. First get people in to update the fifty year old buildings that do not need demolishing and replaced with new higher business rateable value so as traders will have to pay more and be snared into the BID scheme, Business “Implosion” District. What have they done with the money extorted from all traders who have had to pay this?
Scrap this illogical waste of money and upgrade all the buildings standing.
Simple.

By Bernie

Labour Party logic? Talk about an oxymoron

By Dan

I believe Wirral would function far more efficiently under its own brand devoid of Mesrseyside and the pointless LCR.

By Wirral 4 Wirral

Its tough to measure these ideas against a borough where so many “Big Ideas” have failed to materialise, where the local plan is 20 years out of date, and where the council has attracted endless criticism from national governement on matters as far reaching as local planning competence, public libraries, poor financial performance and poor accountancy practices. Then there is “The Peel Dependency” which 10 years into the Wirral Waters planning consent and Peels 50 plan has resulted in …… nothing. With a history of failed ideas and so many bare sites, why risk rate payers money on high risk ventures with no apparent strategic objectives and no clear outputs. Interest rates are historically low right now. When they go up, which they inevitably will, who will fund the debt? The council should leave big ticket investment to the private sector, but also ask why no such investment is forthcoming?

By MILLY

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