Latest Developments in Birkenhead

December ended up as a busy time for us with 6 new projects on top of the refurbishment and basement conversion in Newferry and commercial to 7 flats conversion for clients in Bootle already in progress.

We sourced a block of 4 flats just off Hamilton Sq for one of our London investors. This area is rapidly improving with substantial investment into commercial to resi conversions in Hamilton Square itself. We organised a £15k grant for the renovations as they had been vacant for some time and started the rip out before Christmas. Our aim is for the first tenants to move in in March following a full refurb.

We also acquired 2 shops for ourselves in Market St, Birkenhead. Two years ago occupancy rates here were only about 50%. Now there are only a few units available to let. We pre-let one unit for office use and the lads are working over time to get it ready for the client. The other unit is advertised to let as a cafe and we already have 3 expressions if interest.

The area of central Birkenhead around Hamilton Sq is undergoing a bit of a renaissance. The Birkenhead BID has been a success in my view. The additional street warden patrols are starting to pay dividends. More is needed, particularly on street cleaning and security, if we are to get improved inward investment.

We still await the council plans, in conjunction with Muse Developments, for the redevelopment of the town centre. Hopefully these will be along the lines of the initial discussion documents which show major investment and not just some piecemeal changes here and there.

Whilst the Wirral Waters scheme is now going live with major works started on site we now need to see the Pyramids area improvements begin. I walked through the shopping area and markets yesterday and it is sad to see so many vacant units. It is not just Birkenhead that is suffering. It is a problem shared with many secondary towns when all the shopping spend goes to its bigger local rival.

We will never compete with Liverpool as a shopping destination so need an alternative vision. After 7 reviews in recent years (from the Mary Portas one onwards) we know that there is little future for a purely retail offering. Surely now is the time to embrace D2 leisure and residential for the town centre. Bring more people into town and there will be a future for a reduced retail sector.

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07 April 2020
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