Birkenhead’s £25m Town Deal projects agreed
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Millions of pounds will be invested into a series of transformational projects which will play a pivotal role in the renaissance of Birkenhead.
Following the borough’s successful Town Deal bid, which netted £25m of government funding for Birkenhead, 10 milestone projects will help transform the town as part of the wider regeneration taking place across Wirral.
It comes after a major consultation asking local people and businesses what they believe is special about Birkenhead and what work could be undertaken to enhance the area for everyone, as well as the work of the Town Deal Board which developed a vision and plan for how the funding could be utilised to benefit Birkenhead.
The board has now agreed how the funding will be divided between the 10 projects to enhance and support Birkenhead and this is in line with delivering the vision for the town as set out in the Birkenhead 2040 Framework.
The projects are the Transport Visitor Attraction, Future Yard, Waterfront, animation and connectivity, EXPO village, Wellbeing and Opportunity Centre, Argyle Street Creative, Sustainability Central, Start Yard, Education Engagement Network, and Egerton House.
The aim is to deliver a range of projects that support business and entrepreneurship, drive economic growth and job creation as well as supporting training and the development of necessary skills.
Birkenhead was one of 101 towns invited by the Government to apply for this funding last year.
It means that more than £50m has now been secured towards major regeneration projects in Birkenhead in recent months.
The £25m Town Deal funding follows £24.6m which was awarded through the Government’s Future High Streets fund at the end of last year to support the transformation of the town centre, plus £8.3m awarded by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to support the removal of the flyovers into the town and a further £1m for Town Deal accelerator funds to help bring forward projects, particularly in the Argyle Street area.
Chair of Wirral Council’s economy, regeneration and development committee, Cllr Tony Jones, said: “We’re grateful to the Town Deal Board who worked together to develop and agree this ambitious range of projects which I have no doubt will play a key role in allowing Birkenhead to meet its potential as an exciting place to live, work and spend free time.
“There’s real momentum in bringing change to Birkenhead and the work being carried out will not only bring huge transformation through buildings, infrastructure and public spaces, but also real improvements to the lives of our residents and businesses.”
He added: “This is all happening at the same time as work is set to start on the Central Business District in the town centre through the Wirral Growth Company and we’re already seeing a difference through new and existing creative organisations which we’ve supported.”
Chair of the Town Deal Board and CEO of Eureka! Science + Discovery which is due to open in Seacombe next year, Leigh-Anne Stradeski, said: “The Town Deal Board has listened to local people through the consultation, and their ideas and knowledge of the town has been incredibly helpful in assisting in the development of projects which will help drive forward the changes they we want to see in the town.
“The next step will be working with local organisations and our partners to deliver these projects and help push forwards Birkenhead’s regeneration.”
Two other key schemes proposed for Birkenhead, Dock Branch Park and Argyle Street public realm works, are also being developed.
The Transport Shed will create a new transport-based heritage visitor attraction for Merseyside, run by National Museums Liverpool. It will ensure a nationally significant collection is on permanent display. The Transport Shed will be located on the new Dock Branch Park.
The Waterfront Animation & Connectivity Project will focus investment on waterfront leisure assets – Eureka! Science + Discovery, Woodside and Birkenhead Priory – as well as public realm improvements to Hamilton Square, to provide a significantly enhanced visitor experience.
Education Engagement project will provide investment in improvements to seven existing buildings to create a new hub and spoke network of service delivery bringing together education, advice, guidance, and specialist services. The facilities will each house different services targeting vocational skill pathways aimed at vulnerable groups. Wirral Metropolitan College will be the lead delivery partner.
Wirral Chamber of Commerce propose to re-purpose part of Egerton House to make it suitable for the incubation and growth of small and medium-sized businesses in the Business, Financial and Professional Services sector, and the growing Digital sector in Birkenhead.
The new Wellbeing & Opportunity Hub will provide a one-site hub for all services provided by award winning charity Open Door, alongside a range of other health and wellbeing services. The hub will serve as a new national Centre of Excellence in how arts and culture can be used to reimagine how mental health is supported and understood.
StartYard project will form a creative biosphere in the centre of Birkenhead’s Cammell Laird waterfront area, and next to Birkenhead Priory. The aim is to provide a modern solution for people in the formative stages of their business development. StartYard reuses a former industrial garage unit and is owned by Microzine Creative.
Future Yard Music Skills Venue opened in autumn 2019 as a new re-imagined live music venue with a 350-person capacity. Town Deal funding is required to complete the second and third phase of the project creating an additional 6,800 sq ft of music sector specific project spaces and skills development infrastructure. The facility is run by Future Yard CIC, a charity constituted to utilise music for the social, cultural and economic development of Birkenhead.
Sustainability Central will provide a prominent focal point to co-ordinate activities for the low carbon sector in Birkenhead. Town Deal funding will be combined with private sector funding to refurbish, repurpose and retrofit an existing building and surrounding outdoor space, within the Wirral Waters Enterprise Zone. The new space will host activities, coordinate teaching and skills development and encourage collaboration between sustainability partners.
The Argyle Street Creative Hub will be a transformative, place-based intervention to boost the creative and cultural sector in Birkenhead. The project will involve the acquisition and redevelopment of a vacant property to create a new and improved space for ‘makers’ including creative, cultural and community space, operated by Make CIC. Make CIC is a social enterprise founded in 2012. The organisation’s vision is “to see people turn their passions into prosperity”.
EXPO Village provides a three-year ‘laboratory’ for testing homes of the future. The project will showcase new innovative methods of building homes and new places for the 21st century. The long term legacy use for the EXPO Village site after three years will be new, permanent innovative open market and affordable/social housing.
Funding for projects is subject to business case approval and further approval from Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government before the allocations can be confirmed.