Planning application for the new Birkenhead

Download Stage 1 and 2 consultation reports for Birkenhead

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Birkenhead planning application summary

The Wirral Growth Company (WGC) submitted a planning application to Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council in 2020 to bring forward the regeneration of Birkenhead town centre.

This planning application was informed by a proactive two-stage consultation process, with planning permission granted in August 2020.
The approved scheme will seek to build on the town’s existing strengths, assets and maritime location, to create a dynamic, modern centre, with a focus on delivering a new commercial quarter and residential neighbourhood for Birkenhead.

The first phase includes Two Grade A office buildings which will offer energy-efficient accommodation to help meet the requirement for quality workspace in the town and hopefully attract new businesses to the area.

The application and site area

The site area in the application covers an area of approximately 10.8ha (26.7 acres). It extends from the Pyramid Shopping Centre / Borough Pavement to the south, to the junction of ‘Europa Boulevard’ and Price Street to the north. It includes the commercial and retail units at Milton Pavements, Birkenhead Market, The Crown pub (Grade II Listed), buildings occupied by Vue Cinema, Wilko’s and Mecca Bingo, as well as vacant land to the north of Conway Park station. At the centre of the site is Birkenhead bus station and Conway Street, which provides a great opportunity to enhance the town’s connectivity and accessibility.

The hybrid application for Birkenhead seeks part outline and part detailed permission. The application site area is identified on the plan below. The detailed area is identified in blue and the outlinearea in yellow:

Birkenhead –

Approved Development

The approved development includes a phased scheme of up to approx.138,725 sqm (approx. 1.5m sq ft) of floorspace across ten plots. The plots are identified as A-J on the parameters plan that can be accessed via the link below.

The scheme will be anchored by a highly sustainable BREEAM ‘Excellent’ office building that will become the new home for Wirral Council, along with a redefined Birkenhead Market (including temporary ‘box park’ market to keep market stalls trading throughout demolition and construction of the new market hall – which will be subject to a separate planning application – and an extended leisure offer to stimulate both the daytime and evening economy in the town centre.

A high-quality residential development providing up to 651 new homes is also proposed in a vibrant new neighbourhood around Conway Park station.

The scheme will be connected by the new public realm and open spaces that draws inspiration from Birkenhead’s rich heritage and relationship with the River Mersey. These spaces will provide opportunities for events and pop-up activities, improve cycling and pedestrian routes, while creating a comfortable, welcoming and accessible environment in the town centre.

Improvements to the bus station in Birkenhead are also planned to improve access into the town centre via public transport.

The detailed element of the approved scheme includes two ‘Grade A’ office buildings and associated infrastructure at plot A, as well as the construction of a new primary substation and replacement coach parking at plot H.

The wider areas of the site has received outline permission. This means that the detailed design has yet to be fixed for plots B, C, D, E, F, G, I, and J. For those plots, it’s the principle of development and its type that has been approved for (i.e. providing new homes around Conway Park station up to a maximum number).

To aid interpretation of the approved development an indicative masterplan has been prepared to show how the site could be developed. The masterplan will also show how the maximum parameters which we have applied for for can be accommodated and gives an idea of the possible feel of the proposed scheme.

Our indicative masterplan also shows how it will be possible to integrate the first phase of development on plots A and H with the wider scheme for in each plot.

Masterplan

  • A Office buildings
  • B Car Park
  • C Market Hall/Office buildings
  • D Substation/Infrastructure
  • E Hotel/Office/Residential/Leisure
  • F Bus Station
  • G Hotel/Residential/Car Park
  • H Substation/Infrastructure
  • I Residential
  • J Residential

The wider areas of the site has been applied for in outline. This means that the detailed design has yet to be fixed for plots B, C, D, E, F, G, I, and J. For those plots, it’s the principle of development and its type that is being applied for (i.e. providing new homes around Conway Park station up to a maximum number).

To aid interpretation of the proposed development an indicative masterplan has been prepared to show how the site could be developed. The masterplan will also show how the maximum parameters which we have applied for for can be accommodated andgives an idea of the possible feel of the proposed scheme.

Our indicative masterplan also shows how itwill be possible to integrate the first phase of development on plots A and H with the wider scheme for in each plot.

Development phases

Our plans for Birkenhead town centre have been designed specifically to come forward in phases over the next 15 years. Subject to planning permission being granted, construction is expected to begin in 2021 with an anticipated completion year of 2035.

We expect that construction and occupation will take place across seven phases. This will start with the enabling infrastructure works, followed by demolition works and the construction of the new commercial quarter beginning on plot A. Our phasing plan has been designed in such a way that important existing facilities, such as Birkenhead Market, will not be removed without re-provision being implemented first.

Phasing plan

  • 1A 1B Years 1–2
  • 2A Years 2–3
  • 2B 3 Years 3–5
  • 4A 4B Years 4–6
  • 5A 5B Years 5–8
  • 6A 6B Years 8–12
  • 6C Years 9–11
  • 7A 7B Years 11–15

Planning Assessment

The site is situated in a highly sustainable location (adjoining Pyramid Shopping Centre, homes, key transport infrastructure (bus and rail station), recreation, community and health facilities) in Birkenhead town centre.

This context is important because the core principles of both the National Planning Policy Framework (2019) and the adopted Wirral Unitary Development Plan (2000) encourage the effective use of previously-developed land. There is also clear policy support (at national and local level) for a ‘centres first’ approach, which gives positive support for and priority to new inward investment and development in existing centres, and identifies existing town centres as the preferred location for a range of uses town-centre uses, including retail, office, leisure and residential development.

The policy support offered by the existing Wirral Unitary Development Plan and National Planning Policy Framework is reflected in the council’s emerging Local Plan where the application site forms part of the ambition for the town centre and the ‘Left Bank’ regeneration area. Our town centre regeneration site also forms a key area for the studies being undertaken independently by the council, including the Birkenhead Regeneration Framework (BRF) and the Town Centre Delivery Action Plan (DAP). Our site and proposals have been carefully co-ordinated with the Birkenhead DAP to make sure that a holistic approach is taken to align with ambitions for the town centre.

Our planning statement, which supports the application assesses the proposal against relevant local and national policy and demonstrates that the development is in full accordance with those policies.

Environmental Statement

Due to the scale and potential sensitivity of the proposed development, we’ve prepared an environmental statement (ES) to examine the following technical areas:

Population and human health

Townscape

Cultural heritage

Transport

Noise and vibration

Air quality

Climate change

The ES assesses the potential environmental impact of the development and the effects which may arise during the construction and operational phases of the development. It concludes that (with appropriate mitigation during demolition and construction phases) the development will have no significant adverse effects to the environment.

The ES also confirms that the development will provide many benefits to the area in terms of housing, retail and commercial provision, transport and access, local expenditure, economic output, employment and wider human health.

Technical Assessment

The technical documents submitted with the planning application that do not form part of the ES are:

These technical reports that we’ve submitted as part of the planning application demonstrate that the proposed development fully complies with the policies of the development plan. There are no adverse impacts that which would outweigh the notable and multiple benefits of the development.

Benefits of the Development

The delivery of the planning application will deliver a wide range of benefits to Birkenhead and communities across the Wirral:

A new commercial district

Investing in the local economy

  • Construction of a new ‘Grade A’ office building for occupation by Wirral Borough Council.
  • ‘Grade A’ office space to meet rising demand for high-quality commercial buildings in the town centre
  • A new home for Birkenhead Market to be housed in a new building on the site of the existing market.
  • Introduction of leisure uses to provide attractive modern facilities with a food and beverage offering to attract visitors to the area in both the daytime and the evening.
  • New hotel accomodation providing up to 308 rooms.
  • Creation of between 1,300 and 3,500 new jobs (net) in Birkenhead over the next 15 years
  • Between 440 to 1,150 of the new jobs (net) could be taken up by the local community and a further 600 to 1,600 taken up by residents from elsewhere across the Wirral
  • Additional £39m to £96m Gross Value Added (GVA) per yerar to the economy (through direct and indirect investment)
  • Apprenticeships and training opportunities created during both the construction and operational phases of development
  • Increased household spending generating revenue for the council that can be reinvested in Birkenhead (including Council Tax and New Homes Bonus).

Improved living conditions and housing

Place-making

  • Creation of a sustainable residential neighbourhood centred around Conway Park station
  • New housing will create more choice in Birkenhead and meet modern design, sustainability and building-quality standards
  • Up to 651 new homes will be provided to contribute towards meeting the borough’s housing needs
  • A range of homes will be offered, in terms of size, type and tenure and will include new family housing.
  • Approach built on 18+ months of engagement with residents, students, businesses/traders and local groups
  • Delivery of homes and facilities on previously developed land in a highly-sustainable location
  • Creation of distinct character areas that respond to the varied built environment within the town centre
  • Connecting communities through the creation of people and cycle-friendly routes through the town centre
  • Creation of public spaces that can be used to celebrate the heritage and future of Birkenhead.

High quality new buildings

Improving connections

  • Design approach builds on the town’s existing assets and heritage
  • Targeted interventions are proposed to replace outdated elements of the town centre, to create an attractive, thriving and sustainable destination in its own right
  • Quality homes designed to take account best practice guidance and peer review via places matter design panel
  • Secured by design principles have been adopted in the design process undertaken to date
  • Strengthen the urban grain by repairing the historic street pattern where it has been broken down.
  • Improved north/south pedestrian routes, including the provision of a ‘Super-crossing’ across Conway Street
  • Creation of new east-west link through the new commercial district
  • Enhancements to the bus station and the creation of new bus stops in partnership with Mersey Travel
  • Promotion of cycling with safer routes and secure cycle parking
  • New vehicle and cycling parking (including disability spaces).
  • Provision of a travel plan for commercial buildings to promote sustainable travel.

Enhanced Open Spaces

Responsive to climate change

  • Landscape masterplan that draws on the legacy of Birkenhead Park to provide publicly accessible greenspace
  • Extending the core green spine of Europa Boulevard into the residential quarter and the commercial district.
  • Mix of lawn areas and raised planting along the length of the new open space to provide flexible open spaces for socialising, play and events
  • Use of raised planters to instil a sense of enclosure and greater presence in the landscape, allowing seating to be integrated along planter edges
  • Inclusion of varied forms of open space (i.e. private, communal and public) to provide people with a range of places to spend time and enjoy the town centre.
  • A commitment to not using fossil fuels within any new office development with no combined heat and power plant anywhere within the development
  • Highly-sustainable commercial office development that will achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standard
  • Use of heat pumps within commercial buildings to provide heating and cooling resulting in a large proportion of the regulated energy with more than 20% being from this renewable or low-carbon source
  • EPC rating of A for commercial office buildings and a part L result with over 37% improvement on building regulation requirements
  • Provision of a travel plan for commercial buildings to promote sustainable travel into and around the town centre such as cycle and public transport
  • Inclusion of sustainable urban drainage and a rain garden.

A new commercial district

  • Construction of a new ‘Grade A’ office building for occupation by Wirral Borough Council.
  • ‘Grade A’ office space to meet rising demand for high-quality commercial buildings in the town centre
  • A new home for Birkenhead Market to be housed in a new building on the site of the existing market.
  • Introduction of leisure uses to provide attractive modern facilities with a food and beverage offering to attract visitors to the area in both the daytime and the evening.
  • New hotel accomodation providing up to 308 rooms.

Investing in the local economy

  • Creation of between 1,300 and 3,500 new jobs (net) in Birkenhead over the next 15 years
  • Between 440 to 1,150 of the new jobs (net) could be taken up by the local community and a further 600 to 1,600 taken up by residents from elsewhere across the Wirral
  • Additional £39m to £96m Gross Value Added (GVA) per yerar to the economy (through direct and indirect investment)
  • Apprenticeships and training opportunities created during both the construction and operational phases of development
  • Increased household spending generating revenue for the council that can be reinvested in Birkenhead (including Council Tax and New Homes Bonus).

Improved living conditions and housing

  • Creation of a sustainable residential neighbourhood centred around Conway Park station
  • New housing will create more choice in Birkenhead and meet modern design, sustainability and building-quality standards
  • Up to 651 new homes will be provided to contribute towards meeting the borough’s housing needs
  • A range of homes will be offered, in terms of size, type and tenure and will include new family housing.

Place-making

  • Approach built on 18+ months of engagement with residents, students, businesses/traders and local groups
  • Delivery of homes and facilities on previously developed land in a highly-sustainable locationCreation of distinct character areas that respond to the varied built environment within the town centre
  • Connecting communities through the creation of people and cycle-friendly routes through the town centre
  • Creation of public spaces that can be used to celebrate the heritage and future of Birkenhead.

High quality new buildings

  • Design approach builds on the town’s existing assets and heritage
  • Targeted interventions are proposed to replace outdated elements of the town centre, to create an attractive, thriving and sustainable destination in its own right
  • Quality homes designed to take account best practice guidance and peer review via places matter design panel
  • Secured by design principles have been adopted in the design process undertaken to date
  • Strengthen the urban grain by repairing the historic street pattern where it has been broken down.

Improving connections

  • Improved north/south pedestrian routes, including the provision of a ‘Super-crossing’ across Conway Street
  • Creation of new east-west link through the new commercial district
  • Enhancements to the bus station and the creation of new bus stops in partnership with Mersey Travel
  • Promotion of cycling with safer routes and secure cycle parking
  • New vehicle and cycling parking (including disability spaces).
  • Provision of a travel plan for commercial buildings to promote sustainable travel.

Enhanced Open Spaces

  • Landscape masterplan that draws on the legacy of Birkenhead Park to provide publicly accessible greenspace
  • Extending the core green spine of Europa Boulevard into the residential quarter and the commercial district.
  • Mix of lawn areas and raised planting along the length of the new open space to provide flexible open spaces for socialising, play and events
  • Use of raised planters to instil a sense of enclosure and greater presence in the landscape, allowing seating to be integrated along planter edges
  • Inclusion of varied forms of open space (i.e. private, communal and public) to provide people with a range of places to spend time and enjoy the town centre.

Responsive to climate change

  • A commitment to not using fossil fuels within any new office development with no combined heat and power plant anywhere within the development
  • Highly-sustainable commercial office development that will achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standard
  • Use of heat pumps within commercial buildings to provide heating and cooling resulting in a large proportion of the regulated energy with more than 20% being from this renewable or low-carbon source
  • EPC rating of A for commercial office buildings and a part L result with over 37% improvement on building regulation requirements
  • Provision of a travel plan for commercial buildings to promote sustainable travel into and around the town centre such as cycle and public transport
  • Inclusion of sustainable urban drainage and a rain garden.

Next Steps

Following approval of the planning permission in August 2021, construction works on Phase 1 are expected to commence later this year.

 

We will also be developing our detailed plans for the wider area of the site and provide further updates in due course.

 

You can also submit queries to us direct at: hello@wirralgrowthcompany.co.uk

Download the report of our findings from stage one of consultation

Download the report of our findings from stage two of consultation

Work on site

As part of our drive to provide opportunities to local tradespeople and smaller businesses, we have connected with Work Radar to increase accessibility to open roles on our future pipeline of work.

Register today and make your skills and business known to those that procure the works.

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