HOUSE OF FRASER: Homes set to be built on site in Wirral
Homes are set to be built at a former House of Fraser site, after the council bought it last year.
Birkenhead’s House of Fraser store, on Grange Road, closed last March but on December 21 the £2m purchase of the building was agreed to by Wirral Council’s policy and resources committee.
Last night, a meeting of the same committee agreed to accept a £2.109m grant from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCR), which will allow the authority to recoup the money it spent on buying the building.
Speaking to the LDRS after the meeting, council leader Janette Williamson explained what the decision meant.
Cllr Williamson said: “The Birkenhead Regeneration Framework identifies the St Werburghs quarter as a key gateway area into the town centre.
“It is envisaged, as part of the council’s plan to support the improvement of the retail core, that new residential development will form part of a mixed use scheme on the House of Fraser site.
“However, this is subject to further design work which is currently underway.”
The Labour leader wants the plan to move quickly, she added: “I’m delighted that the council’s vision for the regeneration of Birkenhead is not only taking shape but has been recognised by the combined authority.
“We can now move at pace with bringing the House of Fraser site back into use in a meaningful way, including the potential for good quality and affordable housing.”
The Grange Road site is ideally placed, lying close to the proposed office development at Milton Pavements and the site of the 1,000 homes plan around Hind Street.
There are certain conditions attached to the grant by the LCR, which mean homes must be built at the site and planning consent for the homes must be submitted no later than September 30, 2022.
Wirral Council also needs to either appoint a development partner or devise “a satisfactory route to delivery of residential housing” by this date.
If these conditions are not met, the grant can be clawed back by the LCR.
Speaking at last night’s meeting, Green Party councillor Pat Cleary, who represents Birkenhead and Tranmere, wanted a guarantee that the homes will be energy efficient and meet the council’s environmental goals.
But given the early stages of the project, a council officer was only able to say that plans will be brought forward for consultation, at which stage they can be assessed.
Labour councillor Christine Spriggs said people are looking forward to all of Birkenhead’s regeneration projects and wanted the authority to make sure that it works with people to deliver the plans, rather than imposing them.
Words: George Morgan, Local Democracy Reporter
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