Green light for transformational Birkenhead schemes following £25m funding
The Government has awarded Birkenhead £25m of Town Deal funding for a series of transformational projects, which have now been given the green light.
Birkenhead was one of only 101 towns invited by the Government to apply for this funding.
The projects form part of the Town Investment Plan and will help transform Birkenhead as part of the wider regeneration taking place across Wirral.
They have been endorsed by the Town Deal Board, which will oversee delivery of the projects, and are intended to help business and entrepreneurship, drive economic growth and job creation as well as supporting training and the development of necessary skills.
The projects to be funded are the Transport Shed, Future Yard Music Skills Venue, Waterfront Animation and Connectivity including landscaping at Eureka! and Woodside Ferry Village, Joy project, Argyle Street Creative Hub, Sustainability Central, Start Yard, Education Engagement Network, and Egerton House.
The Town Deal funding follows £24.6m which was awarded through the Government’s Future High Streets fund 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 £1m for Town Deal accelerator funds to help bring forward projects, particularly in the Argyle Street area.
The approval comes after the completion and scrutiny by central government of the detailed business cases that thoroughly evaluated the projects.
Chair of Wirral Council’s Economy, Regeneration and Development Committee, Cllr Tony Jones, said: “This is an ambitious range of projects and it is timely that we are working to deliver real change for the people of Birkenhead and Wirral, using this opportunity to help strengthen the local economy.
“Birkenhead has a real sense that change is coming and optimism for the future of the town. This funding is one part of the wider ambition for Birkenhead and Wirral and people are already seeing a difference.”
Leigh-Anne Stradeski, chair of the Town Deal board, said: “This announcement by the Government is another major step forward for Birkenhead and on behalf of the Town Deal board, we are pleased to see these projects moving forward.
“Many people have worked really hard to make sure local people were listened to and to put forward plans which would drive the changes they want to see and help us all work towards a brighter future for Birkenhead.”
Schemes to be funded:
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 in the new Dock Branch Park.
The Waterfront Animation & Connectivity Project will focus investment on some of Wirral’s waterfront leisure assets – Eureka! Science + Discovery, Woodside Ferry Village and Birkenhead Priory – as well as public realm improvements to Hamilton Square, to provide a significantly enhanced visitor experience.
Education Engagement Network project will invest 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 is 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 businesses in the Business, Financial and Professional Services sector, and the growing Digital sector in Birkenhead.
Joy project is a hub providing services by 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.
Start Yard provides a creative biosphere in the Cammell Laird waterfront area, next to Birkenhead Priory, and provides a flexible solution for people in the formative stages of their business development. The funding will expand the offer at Startyard, run by Microzine Creative, and utilises a former industrial garage unit.
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 will complete the second and third phase of the project creating additional floor space for music sector specific projects and skills development infrastructure. The facility is run by Future Yard CIC, which utilises music for the social, cultural and economic regeneration 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 our 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”.