Starting Spring 2011
Unlike Liverpool's docks which line the riverbank, Birkenhead Docks, which is the locked-in old natural Wallasey Pool, run from the River Mersey inland, located between the towns of Birkenhead and Wallasey. This massive, turning, attractive mass of water is ideal to create a water based high-rise centre for the two towns. The East Float development will be approximately a mile from Liverpool city centre and Liverpool Waters, looking directly at Liverpool across the River Mersey.
Birkenhead Docks extends to over 500 acres. Wirral Waters within these dock waters will be a £4.5 Billion investment, creating tens of thousands of jobs during construction, spanning over at least 30 years, and and estimated 27,000 jobs when complete.
During the last century towns and cities prospered when they had the benefit of docks for their trade and industry. On a world-wide basis these once wonderful assets have fallen into disrepair and dereliction due to trade patterns and transportation methods changing to meet our modern "computer" age lifestyles. Birkenhead docks are a classic example of such a decline. However, this does not mean that the docks should cease to operate, indeed quite the opposite. For them to survive, consolidation of the dock system must take place so that it can operate efficiently and regenerate with new uses. Done successfully a new breath of life can be brought to Birkenhead and the docks can once again be a wonderful and thriving environment.
Consideration for all of Birkenhead docks is needed for improvement, but only part for redevelopment. "Wirral Waters" is the area selected for this redevelopment; the name reflecting the new and unique place it will strive to be. Once completed, people of Wirral will benefit from this spectacular development which will be a place for all ages to work, socialise, rest and play. Wirral Waters will be a recognized name around the world; tourists will identify with its location and want to visit.
Sector A - Bidston Moss
This sector is retail, leisure and residential. Bidston Moss, an already established retail area will see a high quality retail park constructed and supported by leisure services, making it a strong contender as a retail hotspot. Peel believe that retail parks do not have to follow the usual design parameters by having a series of "wriggly tin" flat fronted rectangular boxes connected together in an "L" shaped configuration. Curvaceous Romanesque structures with beautiful glass domes which depict design standards that have survived for centuries will be a predominant feature of Wirral Waters. Walkways formed by curved colonnades will be a pleasure to browse through, passing the high quality retailers that will be attracted to Wirral. We are presently considering as an alternative a Venetion style option again using classical architecture as a concept. Peel energize their developments from dawn until dusk, by having wider opening hours to cater for all members of the public.
The existing lake on Bidston Moss will be overlooked by tastefully designed cafes, restaurants, a hotel and a health and fitness centre to enhance the experience.
Total floor area is 72,000 Square metres, 571,000 Square foot. The Total investment Value is approximately £200 million.
Rapid Transit Rail Link
The Bidston Moss complex will be served by an adjacent rapid transit Merseyrail station with access to all Merseyside and direct access to Liverpool and Birkenhead centres. It is hoped the line to Wrexham will be electrified and incorporated into the Merseyrail metro system. This will give fast direct access from Bidston down the west bank of the Wirral Peninsular and onto Wrexham.
Sector C - East Float
East Float and Vittoria Docks. This sector will incorporate beautiful individually designed tall buildings; some over 50 storey's high and built to the highest standards, will reach for the skies. These buildings will contain a variety of uses including apartments, offices, bars, restaurants, health centre's, and community and cultural facilities for all to enjoy; a whole new community environment will be created. Public spaces will be formed between buildings, each displaying their own individual style and characteristics to suit all tastes. Listed buildings will be refurbished and brought back into use, comparable to that of the old Corn Warehouses which are scheduled for conversion to apartments.
Total floor area is 1,553,000 Square metres, 17,100,000 square foot. The total investment Value is approximately £4.3 Billion.
No Rapid Transit Rail Link
The main East Float sector of Wirral Waters, as yet has no plans to run in a Merseyrail rapid transit rail station. The project will not be a major success without rapid rail access to all of Merseyside and direct connections to:
Merseyrail rapid transit rail access is vital to the success of the project, as experience in London's Docklands has proven. Birkenhead East Float has the disused Birkenhead Dock Branch Line emerging at East Float. Conway Park underground station is the nearest Merseyrail station, however not close enough to the proposed complex. The complex requires direct rail access right into the centre. Rail lines accessed the East Float from the Birkenhead Dock Branch Line to the south east and Bidston to the west. Running in rail is not a difficult task, yet there are no firm plans to do so.
It is relativity easy to create a Merseyrail metro connection to Wirral Waters. http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/watercity/Merseyrail-Extensions.html explains how this can be simply completed by using the disused Birkenhead Dock Branch Line running through the centre of Birkenhead. A branch and small section of line from Birkenhead Central Station is easily and cheaply constructed.
Are we to assume Peel Holdings are not serious with this project by omitting a vital aspect that would ensure success? Rapid-transit rail was considered essential for the success of London's Docklands. Without it Dockland would have been still-born. The same would apply to this project. Merseyrail is easy to run into the project.
Wirral Waters News - UPDATED 4th August 2010
£4.5bn Wirral Waters scheme secures first approval Aug 14 2009 by Liam Murphy, Liverpool Daily Post
THE first major phase of a £4.5bn plan to redevelop Wirral’s docklands was given formal approval last night.
The Northbank East proposals for Wirral Waters were approved at a meeting of Wirral Council’s planning committee when it met last night at Wallasey town hall. Development director for Peel Holdings, Lindsay Ashworth said he was “absolutely delighted” that councillors had given the scheme unanimous approval.
The committee had considered two separate planning applications, which together comprise the first major element of the company’s long term multi-billion Wirral Waters redevelopment of the docks area between Birkenhead and Wallasey. One application was a detailed proposals for a development with 141 residential units, a small supermarket and restaurants and cafes. The second application was outline plans for 1,531 residential units, offices, bars and leisure facilities – including buildings up to 40 storeys high. Mr Ashworth praised Wirral Council and its officers for the detailed report on the two schemes.
An objection from Warner Estates, the owner of the shopping centre in Birkenhead, was heard but councillors were told by planning officers it had not caused them to alter their views of the Peel development, which they had recommended for approval. The meeting followed embarrassing scenes for Wirral Council planners last week after that objection had been missed out and the decision had to be deferred so its implications could be fully considered in the officers’ report.
Following the decision to approve the scheme, Cllr Jean Stapleton, cabinet member for regeneration and planning strategy, said the proposals “offer a unique opportunity for Wirral, the Northwest region and indeed the country and I am very pleased that the first steps to its implementation can now be taken”.
She said: “The plans will totally transform what is currently derelict brownfield land within East Float at Birkenhead Docks and when finished will create over 27,000 jobs in one of the country’s most deprived areas. “The members and officers of Wirral Council have been working closely with Peel for almost three years to ensure that the benefits and opportunities of such a scheme can be maximised and this application alone will see the creation of around 1,000 jobs in construction and proposed office and retail uses.”
Cllr Stapleton said they would be working closely with Peel to ensure local people benefited from the jobs that are created by the scheme.
Peel’s Wirral Waters scheme will be bigger than the Olympics Nov 2 2009 by Liam Murphy, Liverpool Daily Post PEEL Holdings is on the verge of submitting the largest planning application in the country as the next phase of the £4.5bn Wirral Waters project.
At a closed briefing to councillors, the development company revealed the application could be submitted within six weeks or less. Wirral’s councillors were told by Peel the application was the biggest in the country, covering a larger area than the site for the London Olympics, and many members were left impressed by the scale and ambition of the scheme. Cabinet member for regeneration Cllr Jean Stapleton said: “They said it was the biggest application in the country. “I think up to now we have never envisaged the scale of what they are doing, but now we think it will be absolutely amazing for Birkenhead and Wallasey.”
Details revealed so far show that Peel has divided the dockland area into four sectors, with two focused on port businesses. The other two are a “mixed use” area around the Northbank East scheme which received planning approval earlier this year. At the Bidston end of the dockland area, Peel has so far said it wants to create a “retail, leisure and residential” area. The entire Wirral Waters scheme covers some 260 hectares – the London Olympics application was for 246 hectares. The Wirral Waters scheme is envisaged to provide approximately 15,000 new homes, 27,000 direct full-time jobs and over 750,000 sq m of retail and commercial development.
Council leader Steve Foulkes said Peel had shown them “exciting plans”, although Peel itself has refused to comment following the presentation, saying instead it plans to reveal more details in the next couple of weeks. Cllr Foulkes said: “I understand they are hoping to progress the scheme with a major application soon, but that is for Peel to say, not me.” This latest step by Peel follows the recent announcement that a tie-in with Chester University and Wirral Metropolitan College could see a “Wirral University” on the Wirral Waters site. Cllr Foulkes said: “It shows the scale of our ambition, and if it is successful, it will genuinely transform Wirral and the job prospects for thousands of people.” Peel is also understood to have been pleased that the Northbank East plans had not been called in for a public inquiry. That approval included detailed proposals for a development with 141 residential units, a small supermarket, restaurants and cafes and outline plans for 1,531 residential units, offices, bars and leisure facilities – including buildings up to 40 storeys high.
There was an objection from Warner Estates, the owner of the shopping centre in Birkenhead, which fears the scheme will damage the Birkenhead town centre economy – Wirral’s “main retail and commercial centre”. This point has recently been underlined by a report to Wirral Council’s cabinet which said Birkenhead “has seen its attractiveness as a retail centre fall rapidly – in April 2008 Birkenhead’s share of Wirral comparison goods shopping was 28.4%, whilst in March 2009, this had fallen to 23.3% (-5.1%, the largest fall in Wirral).”
Cllr Foulkes also said Peel is “very excited about selling Wirral’s virtues” at the Shanghai Expo in China next year, and the company was “hoping to use that platform for attracting investment in Wirral Waters”. Wirral’s cabinet will this week consider whether to spend £28,000 on maintaining a Wirral presence on the Liverpool Council stand at the six-month long “Business Olympics” which is being sponsored by Peel. A report to the Cabinet said: “Peel who are the major sponsor of EXPO, have asked that the authority has a presence at EXPO as they intend to use this opportunity to promote the Wirral Waters scheme.”
The report recommends Wirral contributes £18,000 to the cost of the event, plus a further £10,000 for attending.
Wirral Waters: First images revealed as Peel Holdings submit “UK’s biggest planning application” Dec 15 2009 by Liam Murphy, Liverpool Daily Post
THESE are the first images of the largest planning application in the UK – submitted to Wirral Council yesterday. Peel Developments says that, when completed, the East Float element of the £4.5bn Wirral Waters scheme will provide 1.4m square metres of mixed-use floor space.
The project, which the company says is expected to be delivered over the next few decades, will provide office/workshop accommodation to support over 20,000 jobs in a broad range of commercial sectors. The scheme will also include over 13,000 homes aimed at a diverse mix of people, including families, plus leisure and culture facilities, and is expected to provide more than 4,000 construction jobs over the life of the entire scheme.
Lindsey Ashworth, Development Director at Peel, said: “This has been a massive, difficult and complex but exciting journey, bringing this project together over the last three years to the point of submitting a planning application. “We are in very difficult times and these projects take some resourcing in terms of staff time and finance, but it has been worth the effort and expense. “It is Peel’s belief that Birkenhead Docks has huge potential in so many ways, and Wirral Waters, together with Liverpool Waters, will completely transform the way the western end of the North-West goes about its business. “It will redress the imbalance of the region and create what I would describe as a new super- region that will further strengthen this as a destination for international business and as a place to live.”
The East Float plan proposes a “sustainable and green” high density and part high rise regeneration scheme in the under-used Birkenhead Docks The company says it will act as the catalyst to transform the local economy and regenerating seriously deprived areas around the docklands.
Wirral Council leader Cllr Steve Foulkes described the application as “a significant step in our vision to regenerate Wirral”. He said: “Importantly, it is encouraging that, even at a time of such economic difficulties, we continue to make significant progress towards the delivery of our ambitious investment strategy. The challenge for us now is to ensure this exciting vision delivers real benefits for the residents and businesses of Wirral and the wider region.”
It is hoped by Peel Holdings that the planning application will be heard at Wirral’s Planning Committee in the spring of 2010.
Richard Mawdsley, development surveyor at Peel Holdings, said: “As well as targeting new start-ups and growing local companies, we can see Wirral Waters having an appeal to companies who have become discontent with London and the South-East and want to relocate.”
Peel set to start work on Wirral Waters next spring Jan 22 2010 by Liam Murphy, Liverpool Daily Post
THE first stages of the ambitious £4.5bn Wirral Waters development could begin as soon as spring 2011, the Daily Post can reveal.
Peel Developments submitted the biggest planning application in the country for the major part of the project, around Birkenhead docks, last month.
Peel’s ultimate ambition is to create thousands of new homes and jobs, bringing major companies and possibly even a government department to what is currently mostly wasteland and an underused brownfield site surrounding the docks.
Lindsey Ashworth, director for Peel and the man behind the scheme, said that work was progressing rapidly behind the scenes, despite the current economic downturn.
He also dismissed critics who remain sceptical about the prospects for the plans.
Mr Ashworth said the firm had to be ready for when the country came out of recession, and pointed to Salford Quays, a Peel success story, which experienced stops and starts during its development, but now had the Lowry and the Imperial War Museum North, and was preparing for a major part of the BBC to relocate to its MediaCity section next year.
He said: “We have started and stopped a few times there and this is no different. That scheme is not how we would have imagined it when we started.”
Mr Ashworth said Peel had spent “a seven-figure sum” on developing Wirral Waters to the current stage and councillors would discuss a second planning application within a few months before it was passed to Government Office North West.
Planning permission was granted in August last year for the Northbank East part of the scheme. That included details of a development with 141 homes, a small supermarket and restaurants and cafes, and a second outline application for 1,531 homes, offices, bars and leisure facilities, including buildings reaching up to 40 storeys high.
A second application was then submitted to Wirral Council last month for the East Float element of the scheme, which would provide 1.4m square metres of mixed-use floor space.
The project, which the company said would be delivered over the next few decades, would provide offices and workshops to support more than 20,000 jobs in a broad range of commercial sectors.
The ultimate aim is for towering buildings on the Wirral skyline with views across to Liverpool and North Wales.
Council deputy chief executive Jim Wilkie said the scheme represented people’s “hopes and aspirations for the future”.
He said the council was committed to building about 600 new homes a year and, with development moratoriums in west and south Wirral, Peel’s scheme represented a way of achieving that.
Plans in the pipeline for “international leisure destination” alongside Wirral Waters.
Jan 22 2010 by Liam Murphy, Liverpool Daily Post
AMONG Peel’s ambitious plans for Wirral Waters is an “international-quality leisure destination”.
The company remained tight-lipped about this element of the scheme, but it is understood to include a number of leisure and retail elements and would probably also focus on outdoor, possibly water-based, activities.
The plans could tie in with Wirral Council’s stated aim of concentrating future shopping requirements on the Wirral Waters site.
The council needs another 85,000 square metres of non-food retail space to try and keep much of the spending from residents which “leaks” to Liverpool One, Chester and Cheshire Oaks.
According to a retail analysis of Wirral, this space – about five times the size of Croft Retail Park – is not deliverable in existing shopping centres. Lindsey Ashworth, director of Peel Developments, said these plans were several months away from being finalised.
He said the firm was focused on the main scheme in Birkenhead, along with the companion Liverpool Waters project, which is currently out for consultation.
But he insisted Peel was not planning another version of Manchester’s Trafford Centre. Jim Wilkie, deputy chief executive of Wirral Council, said: “It is crucial to note this [plan for extra space] is in addition to an allowance for growth for existing retail centres across Wirral.
“Wirral loses around 35% of non-food retail spend to shopping centres outside the borough.
“This is a challenge which must be addressed.”
Wirral Council faces decision time for £4.5bn Wirral Waters plans Jul 28 2010 by Liam Murphy, Liverpool Daily Post
PLANNERS at Wirral Council are being advised to approve the £4.5bn plan to redevelop the borough’s dockland when the scheme comes before them next week.
The application for Wirral Waters, due to be heard on Tuesday, August 3, at Wallasey Town Hall, is the largest of its kind in the UK.
At 18 million sq ft the developers Peel Land and Property (Ports) Ltd say the regeneration scheme will transform the economic fortunes of Birkenhead and Wallasey, as well as Wirral and the broader region.
The plans for the scheme include “iconic landmark buildings”, including skyscrapers in the “Sky City” quarter.
Other sections will focus on residential and educational or leisure use, or areas for business start-ups.
Peel says the scheme for Birkenhead docks – which cover more than 500 acres – will eventually result in tens of thousands of jobs during construction, which will span some 30 years, and approximately 27,000 jobs when complete.
Later this week Cllr Joe Anderson, leader of Liverpool Council is due to meet with Cllr Jeff Green, Leader of Wirral Council, along with Peel Holdings’ development director Lindsey Ashworth to give the project Liverpool’s seal of approval.
A 233-page report on the application to be heard by Wirral Council’s planning committee said the plan proposes a “mixed-use development” and seeks a planning permission that can be implemented over 25 years.
The report said: “The East Float site forms one of the largest regeneration sites in North West England. At 50.4 hectares, it occupies a large site in a significant area in need of intensive regeneration.
“The impact of the site’s development would affect the whole of the Borough, but the site is also important in strategic terms for Merseyside and the Mersey Gateway to the North West.”
The report added: “Because of the scale of the proposals, it is recommended that if members are minded to approve the application, that it is referred to the Secretary of State for his views.”
Wirral Waters £4.5billion plan gets unanimous approval Aug 4 2010 by Liam Murphy, Liverpool Daily Post
Councillors open a ‘new chapter’ and back £4.5bn scheme, as Liam Murphy reports
IT WAS described as “the most important development for Wirral since John Laird came to form his shipyard” by Birkenhead MP Frank Field.
And last night the £4.5bn Wirral Waters scheme was unanimously approved by the council’s planning committee.
The meeting at Wallasey Town Hall erupted into applause as councillors voted in favour of a scheme which was described by many of them as “transformative” for the borough.
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The outline planning application will allow for the dockland area between Birkenhead and Wallasey to be developed by Peel Holdings with a scheme they say will rival waterfront developments across the globe.
All four of Wirral’s MPs had written in support of the application, which is the biggest of its type in the UK.
Covering 50 hectares of dockland – some of which is operational but vastly reduced from its heyday – the ambition of Peel is to repeat the success they have enjoyed in Salford Quays, with a scheme anticipated to grow over the next three decades.
The planning committee was being asked to effectively set the “ground rules” for the development as it is expected to emerge in the coming years. No detailed plans have yet been submitted and Peel director Lindsey Ashworth has said it would be 2012 at the earliest before any work is likely to start.
Following the meeting, Mr Ashworth said he “could almost cry” at the decision, which he has worked towards for four years.
He said: “Unanimous support is a big thing to me, as well as helping to avoid a public inquiry. If the Government call it in (for an inquiry) we will have serious problems.”
Because of the size of the scheme, it will be automatically referred to the Government by Wirral Council, and will shortly reach the desk of Eric Pickles, secretary of state for Communities and Local Government.
Mr Ashworth said: “If there is a public inquiry, we would either fight it – which is two years and a couple of million pounds – or back off. I don’t want to spend any more money.”
He added: “I was not going to appeal against refusal. I would have picked up my bag and gone away.”
But he declared himself “well pleased” by the council’s decision which is projected to create tens of thousands of jobs during the decades of construction and approximately 27,000 jobs when complete. The aim is to attract major international organisations to the site. During the meeting, councillors were told Wirral’s population had declined dramatically since the mid-1960s, a key indicator of economic fortunes, as people left the area for jobs.
In their presentation, planning officers highlighted the woeful state of some of the areas surrounding the docklands which suffer high rates of worklessness and deprivation. They also pointed to studies which show a lack of office space which prevents companies locating in the borough.
There were objections to the application, primarily from consultants for retail organisations, which were dismissed by committee member Cllr David Elderton as “mealy mouthed”.
Chairman of the committee, Cllr Dave Mitchell, echoed his colleagues in praising council officers who had worked with Peel on the application. He said: “People don’t realise this has been developed over five years and a lot of work has been done by our staff.”
Cllr Phil Gilchrist said he had some concerns about the height of the tallest buildings in the scheme which would dwarf Bidston Hill, but ultimately backed the scheme, as did Cllr George Davies, who said he was “absolutely delighted” to be part of the meeting, and described seeing the transformation of Salford Quays from a similar wasteland.
He said: “I just hope the people of Birkenhead, Wallasey and Wirral can enjoy the same benefits in the future.”
Wirral Council leader, Cllr Jeff Green, said: “This is a fantastic day for the people of Birkenhead and Wallasey and the future of Wirral. We can now look forward to the site’s transformation over the coming years to help improve the economic fortunes of the Borough and that of its residents.”
Cllr Andrew Hodson, cabinet member for regeneration and planning strategy, said: “This is a great day for Wirral.
“We have been working closely with Peel for almost four years to bring jobs and regeneration to the borough.
“The approval of this planning application will lead to the total transformation of what is currently derelict brownfield land within East Float at Birkenhead Docks and when finished will create over 27,000 jobs.
“This has taken place against a backdrop of the worst recession in living memory and it is a credit to both Peel and Wirral council that we have kept the plans moving.”
Cllr Hodson added: “Subject to getting the OK from the Government, we hope work will start on site within the next two years, and officers of the council will continue to work with Peel as we move into the development phase.”
Deputy leader of the council, Simon Holbrook, said it was a “historic moment”, and described the application as a “new chapter” for Wirral and “shows ambition”.
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2010-01-12 13:37:25 Viewpoint: Wirral Waters would be a giant leap forward for Wirral (excerpt from Liverpool daily post).
PEEL Holdings’ submission of its Wirral Waters planning application this month is a story of potentially immense significance. We must hope that this is the next stage of a project of such towering ambition it will become our space race – climaxing in a generational giant leap for Birkenhead and Merseyside. The project’s astonishing statistics speak for themselves. It is Britain’s biggest planning application, it will cost £4.5bn, and it will see 500 acres of brownfield land transformed into a futuristic Dubai-like landscape creating 27,000 jobs and 15,000 homes.
As a Birkenhead-based business, we see the desperate need to seize this glittering opportunity. Wirral has a bustling business community helped by Wirral Council’s networking initiatives. But problems remain. It was reported in November that Birkenhead has high adult unemployment. The resultant poverty brings the risk of social breakdown. Birkenhead’s lost generation needs Wirral Waters to happen.
However, there are signs that Wirral Waters is coming at the right time. The resurgence of Cammell Laird has proven emphatically that the spirit of the town will not die. Cammell Laird pumps the heart of Birkenhead with pride and provides skilled jobs to people of all backgrounds. The firm’s revival has seen it reclaim its rightful place as one of the leading shipyards in Europe, and last year it contributed more than £33m to the Merseyside economy. Importantly, the Cammell Laird of 2009 retains the ethos of the Laird family. That ethos is an incredibly powerful combination of industry and social benevolence. Not only did the family build up one most of successful shipyards of the age, they also built Hamilton Square, one of the finest Victorian squares in Britain. And they were instrumental in building Birkenhead Park, a facility so impressive that Central Park in New York copied it. Lairds, then as now, thought big. And Wirral Waters is this century’s equivalent to what Lairds was in the 1820s when, precisely like Peel, the Lairds saw the potential of Wirral’s underdeveloped docklands.
It is my passionate belief that Wirral Waters can transform the polarised fortunes of Wirral and Birkenhead.