DEVELOPERS behind an ambitious £25m plan to redevelop a key area of Wirral’s main town centre have been granted extra time to put financing into place.
Wirral Council’s cabinet last week over-ruled recommendations by council officers to seek another developer for the area around Conway Park train station on Europa Boulevard in Birkenhead – close to the existing town centre.
Last month cabinet members had been advised to re-market the site because the preferred developer had not made sufficient progress.
The ambitious scheme was intended to create 1,000 jobs and see a casino, 120-bed hotel and a restaurant and office blocks built close to Conway Park Station in central Birkenhead.
But the report – heard in secret by the cabinet – said because of the lack of progress on the proposals the site should be re-marketed.
A potential operator for the casino element had been identified and was seeking the cabinet’s permission to see if they would continue with that part of the development.
The report had recommended that the “development agreement be terminated”, and said: “At the time of compiling this report no substantive information has been provided by the developer on the question of his funding arrangements as required by the council.”
The cabinet initially put off making a decision, and has now decided the developer should be given additional time “to rearrange its financial and contractual arrangements and commence works.”
However, the cabinet also ordered that “progress be monitored” and reported to its March 18 meeting.
The delay gives developers, Europa Plaza Developments, more time to put financing into place.
In 2008 it was revealed that Birkenhead Market owner Larry Embra had bought into Europa Plaza Developments, the company behind the ambitious regeneration project.
At the time he said it would mean a new phase of development for the town centre, which has not seen any major investment on this scale since the creation of the Pyramids shopping centre.
In 2004 a similar project was put to the council, based on two schemes either side of Conway Park train station involving a 100-room hotel, casino and nightclub, bowling alley, restaurants and bars, but the plans never came to fruition.