DEVELOPMENT of a new supermarket in Wirral’s main shopping district has moved a step closer – after the council agreed to slash the price for a key piece of land.
The long-running saga of the plans for a new Asda, in Grange Road, in Birkenhead, is part of the council’s plans to revitalise the town centre which has been hit by competition from Liverpool One.
It is expected the scheme could create 400 jobs and attract more shoppers to Wirral.
But at a special meeting of Wirral’s cabinet, held behind closed doors last week, councillors agreed to cut the price of the car park on which part of the store will be built from £2m to £500,000.
They also agreed to revised terms for the scheme – on the proviso that they will be given a date for start of work on the development.
However, the council could now face a legal challenge over the revised terms.
A report to the cabinet said the changes could be seen as being “state aid” and could be challenged by potential competitors for the scheme. Earlier this year, Asda reaffirmed its commitment to the scheme after rumours had circulated that complications with some compulsory purchase orders had led the supermarket giant to abandon the development.
In August last year, an inquiry into the proposed store, prompted by retailer B&M’s refusal to accept a compulsory purchase order, almost saw the scheme abandoned.
The supermarket is being developed by Castlewood Developments and Pochin plc, but it would require clearance of part of Grange Road, and the inquiry was told that B&M had objected, and presented a written submission to the inquiry.
Objections raised had included doubt about the scheme’s viability.
But planning inspector Christina Downes ruled that the project should go forward.