Wirral steps in to buy Birkenhead’s Milton Pavement

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.”

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