Wirral launches developer hunt for explosion site

The process of appointing a delivery partner to regenerate an area of New Ferry damaged by a gas explosion in 2017 will start this month and conclude in July, according to the council.

Wirral is also moving to approve the use of compulsory purchase powers to acquire parts of the site deemed necessary for the redevelopment, as negotiations with landowners “have reached an impasse”, a council report said.

The long-awaited proposal designed by architect BDP and government agency Homes England features houses, apartments, a public car park and more than 10,000 sq ft of retail units at the Boundary Lane site and adjoining plots.

Many of the properties in the streets surrounding the explosion site are dilapidated and in need of the repair, so Wirral Council opted to regenerate a larger area of New Ferry to aid its economic development.

The council approved an outline planning application for the scheme last September but has since been unable to move forward with the redevelopment due to complex land ownership interests in the local area.

The report to its regeneration committee ahead of a meeting tomorrow night said: “Negotiations for the acquisition of a number of property interests are not progressing or have reached an impasse.

“The use of [CPO] powers is therefore recommended as the council is unlikely to be able acquire these interests by agreement.

“[This report] asks that the committee recommends…the use of compulsory purchase order(s) under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as a last resort, to acquire property critical to the implementation of the New Ferry Regeneration Plan.”

The gas explosion at a shop in March 2017 destroyed six businesses and left almost 90 people homeless. Under the plans approved last year, the redevelopment of the area is to be divided into three phases across a trio of plots:

Land at Bebington Road:

5,800 sq ft of retail

A 23-apartment block

Woodhead Street car park and land at New Chester Road:

15 houses

30 apartments across two blocks

Retention of 70 public car parking spaces on Woodhead Street car park

Land at the Boundary Lane explosion site:

Development of up to 5,100 sq ft of retail

An apartment block with 11 units

Detailed timescale site development plans are now in preparation, and Wirral Council aims to identify a preferred development partner in July, to bring forward the scheme. A tender is to be issued in the coming days.

Wirral last month secured £27.8m from the Government’s Future High Streets Fund for improvements to Birkenhead and New Ferry. Of the total, New Ferry was awarded £3.2m.

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Great to get more development this side of the water.

By Wirralwanderer

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