Wirral set to approve 350 homes

A housing scheme on a former school and a mixed-use development of an ex-bingo hall site are to go before Wirral Council’s planning committee next Friday with recommendations for approval.

In the first scheme, Morris Homes, advised by WYG, is going for detailed consent to build 217 dwellings at Acre Lane and Meadowside Road, Bromborough.

A former secondary school and playing fields that more recently housed council training offices, development of the 21-acre cleared site has attracted opposition. More than 1,000 people have signed an Acre Lane Action Group petition protesting the scheme, with the support of Wirral South MP Alison McGovern. In total, 73 objections were received and 10 letters of support.

Wirral’s officers recommend approval, reporting: “The proposal is considered acceptable and supports urban regeneration by making full and effective use of land within an urban area and the environmental impacts of the development have been fully considered.

“The development includes parking, landscaping and open space to a standard that satisfies the relevant UDP policies and the provisions of the NPPF.” Approval is subject to a Section 106 agreement. The development includes 3.7 acres of open space.

The second scheme was originally due to be heard in April. It regards a mixed-use scheme at the site of the former Grand Ritz cinema, which later became the Rank bingo hall. The site has a long planning history, with various schemes proposed including a new bingo hall, a multi-storey car park, and a mixed-use retail and leisure scheme.

The site sits on the eastern edge of Birkenhead town centre, just off Conway Street, and has been empty since 2001, currently being used as a surface car park. It is owned by Marcus Machine & Tools, which has proposed a seven-storey apartment block with retail and commercial space.

Designed by Wallasey-based architect Garry Underwood Associates, the building includes 132 apartments on the upper floors along with 12,300 sq ft of mixed-use space on the ground floor.

The proposals also include cycle parking for 120 bicycles, an internal communal terrace for residents, and rooftop gardens on the building’s lower elevations. There will also be 27 car parking spaces, accessed via Oliver Street East.

Knights Professional Services is advising the site owner.

Birkenhead Ritz Cinema Proposals

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Community-Led Alternative Proposals from Acre Lane Action Group
We have engaged in extensive ongoing community consultation, including over a thousand door-step conversations, petitions, meetings, stalls, online discussions etc.

Morris Homes’ information map missed off key locations affected by the development. So Eastham Labour produced its own maps to assist with meaningful community consultations.

Broad consensus is emerging around reasonable adaptations listed below. The package would make the current planning proposal much more acceptable to the local community. Based on Wirral Council’s policy on “material considerations”, the Action Group urges Wirral Council to make any planning permission for Acre Lane subject to the following reasonable conditions.

1. Housing density should be reduced, by say 20%, to reduce over-development and to remain consistent with existing surrounding properties
2. Increase property mix with supported living accommodation
3. Ensure 20% genuinely affordable housing
4. Only single storey dwellings built next to existing bungalows, to reduce overlooking
5. Create walking access to Allport Road to reduce isolation and car journeys
6. Shorten cul-de-sac off congested Meadowside Road
7. Extend new traffic calming to Acre Lane
8. Contribution from property developers towards nearby health services and schools
9. Keep large copse of existing mature trees

By Jo Bird

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