A crucial step in securing the regeneration of Birkenhead town centre has been made with the purchase of key shopping areas The Grange and The Pyramids by Wirral Council.
The sites had been put up for sale by Mars Pension Fund just as the council was completing consultation on how the area could be improved for traders and local people as part of the Birkenhead 2040 Framework which outlines how the town’s future prosperity can be maximised.
The town centre regeneration is part of wider series of major regeneration schemes linking up across Birkenhead, along the Mersey Left Bank area from Bromborough through Wirral Waters to Seacombe, Liscard and New Brighton. It is based on the Local Plan which is currently being examined by planning inspectors and is designed to deliver housing and regeneration on a “brownfield first” strategy whilst also helping protect the Wirral’s Green Belt from development.
The purchase of the shopping area site includes Argos and Conway Street carpark, Princes Pavements, Borough Pavements and the M&S Unit, Milton Pavement and The Pyramids. Although the shopping centres have been acquired to facilitate wider regeneration plans, the price negotiated with Mars Pension Fund is a good commercial deal which yields a positive level of rental income.
Wirral Council’s Director of Regeneration and Place, Dave Hughes, said:
“Mars Pension Fund has recently decided to sell its retail assets and focus on other types of investment. The council’s aim is to see new life breathed into central Birkenhead and we are confident that this ambition can be achieved through the Council’s local stewardship of the asset. Regeneration of Birkenhead Town centre and the income from the shopping centres will have wider benefits for Wirral services and regeneration of Wirral’s Left Bank area too.
“More than £100 million of Government funding has been secured by the council specifically ring-fenced to support regeneration which is already getting underway and the next few years will see real and positive change being delivered for all the people of Wirral.”
Tim Sankey, Managing Director of AEW, the Investment Manager for the Mars Pension Fund said:
“This purchase is really positive step for Wirral council giving them control of such strategic assets. We have been very impressed with the way the council has driven the process over the past two months, these are complicated assets to transact. We wish them all the best with the centres and future plans for the regeneration of Birkenhead town centre.”
Recent consultation on options for Birkenhead town centre regeneration looked at how the prospects for the central Birkenhead area can be improved, with a focus on attracting more people into the town centre, including increasing leisure, public services and better residential opportunities.
In 2020, Mars Pension Fund sold part of Milton Pavements to Wirral Growth Company where two new office buildings are nearing completion, one of which will be occupied by council staff, and which will also add to the footfall and vitality in the town centre.
Birkenhead Market in the town centre is already in council ownership, with plans moving ahead for redevelopment of the former House of Fraser Building, also in the Council’s ownership, to accommodate a new modern market. Wirral Council therefore have major land holding interest in Birkenhead Town Centre which it will use to promote regeneration and steward the vitality of the Town Centre offer for shopping, leisure and other services.
Wirral Council is also fully engaging with retailers in the shopping centres to explain the programme for regeneration works and improving the vitality of the Town Centres retail offer.