Wirral’s biggest town will look totally different within the next two decades, after huge plans for homes, green spaces and a new market were passed.
Wirral Council’s Economy, Regeneration and Development Committee has approved a document outlining plans to build 21,000 homes and create 6,000 jobs, in what is being billed as the biggest change for Birkenhead since 1947.
The plan features the massive Wirral Waters development, set to see up to 13,000 homes built in the next 25 years, a development of around 1,000 homes on Hind Street and bold new green projects such as Dock Branch Park.
Wirral Council’s ambitions for the town have huge financial backing, with £144m secured from the government, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and other public bodies for projects including a new Birkenhead Market, two top quality office buildings and the homes at Hind Street.
In the introduction to the document, called the Birkenhead 2040 Regeneration Framework, council leader Janette Williamson said the plan includes “the most transformational proposals for the town since the 1947 Town Plan”.
The Labour leader added: “We have a unique opportunity to create a beautiful, sustainable, waterfront town which people are proud to call home.”
At the meeting, Cllr Andrew Hodson, a Conservative, asked that if the plan comes to fruition what sort of time the council thought everything in the framework will be finished by?
Keith Keeley, Wirral Council’s head of regeneration strategy, said the new Birkenhead as we know it should be in place by 2040 and that there will be significant progress over the next five or ten years.
Cllr David Burgess-Joyce, also a Conservative, said that if this plan goes up to 2040 and everything is focused on Birkenhead, other parts of Wirral will deteriorate in that time.
He asked council officers what their plans were for other parts of Wirral.
Alan Evans, the council’s director of regeneration, said the Birkenhead regeneration area did cover part of Seacombe, and that there were also plans in place for Liscard, New Brighton and New Ferry.
Among the highlights of the Birkenhead 2040 Regeneration Framework is the Hind Street Urban Village.
The regeneration plan said this will be a “market changing” plan creating a low-carbon urban village of up to 1,000 homes.
It will see the two flyovers currently splitting up the site removed and could even see a new school built.
Among the efforts to make the town more green is Dock Branch Park, which Wirral Council believes will be completed by the end of 2024.
On this plan, the document read: “[Dock Branch Park] will see the creation of a beautiful new linear park and active travel corridor along the disused Dock Branch Railway, one of the earliest railways in the country.
“It will bring to life a neglected gem of Birkenhead’s heritage and link three key development areas: Wirral Waters, the Town Centre and Hind Street Urban Village.”
Another key part of the plan is to move Birkenhead Market from its current site into the former House of Fraser building by the end of 2024, giving it a new lease of life.
Commenting on the plans overall at tonight’s meeting, Labour councillor Tony Jones, who chairs the committee, said we have a “brand new town” in our grasp along with wider improvements across the borough and that he was delighted and honoured to support the plans.
Liberal Democrat councillor Dave Mitchell said this was the fourth plan to regenerate Birkenhead he had seen since he has been on the council, but this was the one only actually doing it.
As well as the plans previously mentioned, Wirral Council also hopes to boost Birkenhead’s waterfront, in a plan it believes will complement Liverpool’s famous Three Graces.
The document read: “Over the next 20 years we will create a greener, more active waterfront environment that celebrates the views across to Liverpool and encourages vibrancy and life along this historically closed off environment.
“Birkenhead’s own Graces – iconic architecture and spaces designed for people to visit and linger – will form a new skyline vista to complement Liverpool’s.”
Wirral Waters will do much of the heavy lifting when it comes to house building, with thousands of homes across many projects to be built along the docklands.
The first of these, called East Float, has already seen 30 homes built with the first residents set to move in over the next few months.