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Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Wednesday, 4 August 2010 12:43 UK
Wirral Waters could transform Birkenhead fortunes

Fly through of the Wirral Waters plans

Wirral Council's approval of planning permission for the Wirral Waters project fires the starting gun on one of the UK's biggest regeneration plans.

The proposals, which could take up to 40 years to fully complete, will place a dramatic new panorama of skyscrapers opposite Liverpool's waterfront.

Developer Peel Holdings intends to invest £4.5 billion in Birkenhead over the coming decades.

Subject to government approval work is planned to start within two years.

The scheme covers 500 acres of Birkenhead docklands which will be developed in to a mixed use scheme comprising offices, leisure and residential accommodation.

The East Float area forms the heart of the project where the plan is to create five individual quarters each with its own identity.

Wirral Waters
Planned to take up to 40 years to reach full completion
15,000 new homes to be built
Estimated 25,000 jobs during life of the scheme
Five individual quarters to be created, SkyCity, Northbank West, Northbank East, Marina View and Vittoria Studios

Chris Johnson of Birkenhead property firm Smith and Sons told BBC Radio Merseyside the scheme is crucial to Birkenhead and the Wirral's long term development, "We've seen a few schemes, the Neptune development down in New Brighton, after quite a bit of delay, but unfortunately the dock area has suffered.

"One hundred years ago [it was] the lifeblood of the town, but in the last twenty or thirty years it's not been utilised.

"There's about 500 acres of land down there now which has been derelict in desperate need of some work doing to them and this is just a superb opportunity for the Wirral.

"It's not just the Wirral. It will attract interest and investment from throughout the country."

Peel Holdings already owns the Manchester Ship Canal and Liverpool John Lennon Airport, as well as several ports along the Mersey.

The Wirral Waters plans are part of Peel's larger regional vision called Ocean Gateway which envisages developing a regional economic area between Liverpool and Manchester along the ship canal corridor.

On the other side of the Mersey Peel are investing in a container terminal extension at Seaforth which will allow the world's largest containerships to dock, dramatically increasing the Port of Liverpool's annual container capacity.

Cammell Laird
The Cammell Laird shipyard will remain in the area known as West Float

The Twelve Quays and Cammel Laird areas, known as West Float, will remain in their current uses. Peel says they will relocate businesses from the Wirral Waters development to the West Float area.

Chris Johnson says the development has the potential to completely change Birkenhead's fortunes, "You just look at the figures you've got £4.5 billion worth of money and investment being spent down there," he said.

"About 18 million square feet is being created of retail, office, residential.

"There's a total of about 27,000 jobs over the life of the project which is anticipated to be about 25 to 30 years.

"Peel have got a good track record, they're involved with the Trafford Centre, with Salford Quays. They've proven they can do it there.

"It is a long term project, and I've no doubt that Peel have the facilities to do it.

"They've got a good track record in attracting investment from China and America...so we're looking at the bigger worldwide picture."

Peel say they will be working with Wirral Council and local training and education agencies to try and ensure that local people benefit from the employment opportunities Wirral Waters would bring.

The company will be looking to attract investors from economies across the world, with particular targeting of growth economies in China and the Middle East.

Approval for 4.5bn docks revamp
03 Aug 10 |  Liverpool
Wirral Waters plans are discussed
29 Jul 10 |  Liverpool
Docks revamp plans with council
14 Dec 09 |  Merseyside
'Manhattan on the Mersey' plans
12 Sep 08 |  Manchester


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