Green light for UK£ 4,5 billion Wirral waterfront revamp
By Helen Wright30 November 2010
The UK government has approved a £ 4,5 billion (€ 5,4 billion) project to develop the Wirral Waterfront, in the north west of England.
UK Secretary of State Eric Pickles gave the proposed regeneration at Wallasey and Birkenhead Docks the green light on 29 November - a contract awarded to UK-based infrastructure, transport and real estate developer Peel Group.
Wirral Waters is a 17 million sq ft urban regeneration scheme - the largest such project in the country.
Wirral Council Planning Committee granted planning permission for Wirral Waters on 3 August, but owing to the size of the scheme it was a legal requirement that it be passed to the Secretary of State for final approval.
Richard Mawdsley, development manager at Peel Group, said "After four years of planning work we can move into the marketing phase of the project. Big, catalytic occupiers - whether cultural, educational or commercial - only start getting interested when we can demonstrate we have consent in place".
Peel Group has been canvassing investor appetite in China, and promoted the Wirral project and another pipeline regeneration project in the area, the Liverpool Waters scheme, at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.
The Liverpool Waters project also involves waterfront regeneration and proposes redeveloping a 60 hectare historic dockland site to create a mixed use waterfront quarter in central Liverpool. An application seeking outline planning permission for this development was submitted to Liverpool City Council on 4 October 2010.
Wirral Council Leader Jeff Green said he had visited China to discuss the investment opportunities.
"Now we have full outline planning we can start marketing the plans to other potential investors. There was real interest shown in China in terms of Wirral Waters and Liverpool Waters," Mr Green said.
The proposed development on the Wirral is so large that it had to be scrutinised by the government, which could have ordered a public inquiry. However, Wirral Council said it had received notice that the Peel Holdings scheme would not be called in for further review.
Peel Group said it hopes to start on the Wirral project "as soon as the recession allows", most likely during 2012.