Recently, Wirral Green Party published its Greenprint for Birkenhead, our vision for a rejuvenated Birkenhead.
Wirral Council has issued a response. You can read this below followed by our own thoughts in return:
MEDIA STATEMENT FROM WIRRAL COUNCIL
January 14, 2013
Subject: Birkenhead Town Centre
Cllr Pat Hackett, Wirral’s Cabinet Member for the Economy, said: ‘Many of the suggestions in this plan have been part of the Council’s vision and strategy for some time; other elements are simply not viable, particularly in view of the current economic climate, and how Birkenhead functions as a town and retail location. The Pyramids, for example, is the centre of the retail area in Birkenhead, and not viable for housing. It would be more appropriate and better for Birkenhead as a whole, to place any high quality independent retailers who want to come here in the town centre, not Argyle Street. Encouragingly, a number of new retailers have recently moved into Birkenhead and we are receiving an increasing number of enquiries for space; we intend to capitalise on these opportunities.
‘In the current challenging economic climate, we have been working with partners to support Birkenhead town centre and develop opportunities for future growth and development. It forms an integral part of our wider economic development aspirations, particularly in view of the future potential of Wirral Waters.
‘We are currently in discussions with a number of property owners and a developer to produce a masterplan, which will focus on bringing new retailers into the town by redesigning the centre and using vacant land to provide new opportunities. Our discussions include exploring options for land at Hind Street, on the edge of the town centre, which, if successful would see the re-use of land that has been vacant for many years.
‘Woodside Ferry area is hugely important in terms of heritage and tourism. Some time ago, the Council and its partners agreed a masterplan for the area which will see this unique waterfront redeveloped with offices, residential and leisure use. When economic circumstances allow, this will revitalize this area of Birkenhead, and link it to the Liverpool waterfront by means of the Mersey Ferries as well as linking back through Hamilton Square into Birkenhead Town Centre as well as into what will be Wirral Waters.
‘A team has also been looking at Hamilton Square area for some time, including improving access, traffic and parking, and a range of opportunities are being explored, including greater use of Birkenhead Town Hall and improving links to Birkenhead Park, Williamson Art Gallery, and The Transport Museum to further strengthen our cultural and heritage offer.
Wirral Green Party response:
Birkenhead Town Centre
Further responses to the Media statement from Wirral Council
We welcome Cllr Hackett's endorsement of many of the ideas in our visionary plan for Birkenhead acknowledging that we are building on the best of current ideas. Of course we welcome continuing efforts to breathe new life into the centre of Birkenhead. However, we still want to see our core ideas addressed and developed building on a number of core principles.
The river Mersey, a wonderful natural and ecological resource, is an important part of the very soul of Birkenhead. Its historic role in the life of Birkenhead makes it vital that the functional core of Birkenhead is reconnected to it. We need a world class response for this location. The proposed "offices, residential and leisure use" of the Woodside Ferry area is just the uninspired, pedestrian and standard response that is potentially a waste of a huge and real opportunity.
We may be in hard times but this makes it all the more important that we have truly visionary ideas and leadership. The Green Party is ready to promote a new vision for the people of Birkenhead who deserve the best of new green thinking - not stale old ideas. We see the need to work with all partners including, for example, Peel Holdings to find the right solutions. We need the sort of vision that has transformed Liverpool.
Gateshead, similar to Birkenhead in looking across a river to a more powerful neighbour, provides examples of the kind of exciting development that Birkenhead needs. So, come on, let's raise our vision, tap into our heritage and make downtown Birkenhead vibrant, a must-go to destination and a fantastic partner for Liverpool building a critical mass around the whole of both sides of the water.