Wirral drawing up 20-year ‘Left Bank’ masterplan
The council is working on the biggest regeneration framework the area has seen in decades, to encompass a stretch of land along the Wirral Peninsula taking in areas such as Seacombe, Liscard, New Brighton, Birkenhead, New Ferry and Bromborough.
The framework is intended to guide future development along the ‘Left Bank’ coastline of the River Mersey, south of Liverpool. It will include seven DAPs (development and land allocation plans) for each area, contained within an overarching policy document on which Wirral Council aims to consult later this year.
Tony Jones, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration and growth, said in a statement to Place North West: “Wirral is leading an exciting and extensive regeneration programme that will transform the borough and its world famous waterfront, creating an impressive environment and resilient economy for our local communities.
“What we and our partners are working to deliver is staggering in its scale. We have the opportunity to create a clear and deliverable vision for the borough that could attract investment and funding and demonstrate a genuine appetite for change.”
The 20-year plan is “very much in its infancy”, a council spokesperson added, and Wirral is working with partners including consultancy Avison Young, BDP and Optimised Environments as masterplanners, and developers already building in the vicinity such as Muse Developments, to bring the various components together.
Muse is part of the Wirral Growth Company, a joint venture with the council, leading a £1bn project to regenerate Birkenhead town centre. The anchor site is Birkenhead commercial district, which proposes 280,000 sq ft of offices and 36,000 sq ft of retail as well as the relocation of Birkenhead Market. An application for this phase of the 10-15-year scheme was expected this summer.
“By overlaying a comprehensive programme with a structured approach with the application of the [existing] Birkenhead Regeneration Framework, we will ensure we have the right contributors, systems and designs in place to deliver our bold ambitions for Birkenhead and its local communities, enhancing the quality of life for people and providing a positive future for generations to come,” Jones said.
While the so-called Left Bank regeneration framework will encompass the Birkenhead town centre plans, it is a far bigger piece of work, taking in almost the whole coastal stretch of the Wirral Peninsula.
Today, Manchester-based architect and engineering firm BDP was appointed to draw up a 15-year masterplan for New Brighton as one section of the framework, tasked with shaping a blueprint for the coastal town to include new retail, leisure, tourism, transport, social and environmental components.
The first stage of the New Brighton project will be to collect input from the local community and other stakeholders to inform the masterplan. The project will also incorporate a comprehensive “movement and access study”, to review traffic flows around the town and facilities for walking, cycling and parking, according to the council.
BDP will aim to begin the initial public consultation in September, with a view to delivering the final masterplan in May 2021.
Meanwhile, fresh proposals for Birkenhead set to be included in the framework include transforming a disused railway cutting that divides the town centre into an 800-metre linear park.
The 10-acre ‘green corridor’ would be designed specifically for walking, cycling and public transport, and run through Birkenhead, from Argyle Street to Rendel Street, connecting the town to Wirral Waters and the Hind Street development site via Central Station roundabout.
“This is a great example of how we can look at our existing assets and find new ways of using them,” said Tony Jones.
“The green corridor will be a catalyst for change in Birkenhead as it will not only provide a fantastic resource to connect communities and encourage local people to be active, but it shows the opportunity we have to reimagine Birkenhead and create a green, sustainable town.”
Wirral Council is consulting on the green corridor proposals this month and is holding two sessions for local residents to contribute their feedback on 12 and 19 August.
The Left Bank masterplan will also take in areas of ongoing development, such as developer Peel L&P’s Wirral Waters, where regeneration specialist Urban Splash is also building new residential blocks, as well as the £12m Eureka! science and discovery centre on the site of the former Mersey Ferries terminal in Seacombe.
The council is exploring possible sources of funding at present, with some initial financing likely to come from its £25m bid to the Government’s Towns Fund for regeneration.
Further details of the framework are to be revealed in the coming weeks and months.