A PROJECT to pull together a major new development to replace one that was controversially abandoned in West Wirral has been launched.
Wirral Council is looking to replace the Sail scheme, which would have led to a new hotel overlooking West Kirby's marine lake.
The project would also have seen the council-owned sailing school replaced and the creation of dozens of jobs, but the scheme ran aground against considerable local political opposition last year when the authority was under Conservative and Lib-Dem control.
However, deputy leader of the current Labour-led administration of the council and cabinet member for regeneration, Cllr Phil Davies, said "doing nothing is not an option" and emphasised the need for a new development to allow West Kirby to compete more effectively in attracting visitors.
Cllr Davies said: “Tourism is a huge sector for Wirral and the visitor economy is important to us. We do not have detailed plans, but we have to raise our game in terms of attracting visitors. We also have the Open returning in 2014 and the Women’s Open in 2013.”
He confirmed the long talked-about “golf resort” plans for West Wirral are also “still on the stocks.”
Cllr Davies said: “Obviously, we have to do as much as we can to take the community with us, but I have not got much time for those who say ‘just leave everything as it is’. We can’t afford to do that. Other parts of the North West are improving their offer and I have been asking officers to come back to cabinet with a vision for how we can improve in Hoylake and West Kirby. We need to take the community with us, but doing nothing is not an option.”
The Sail scheme was scaled back as the recession hit, but concerns it would use up parking spaces near the town’s marine lake became a major issue for opponents.
At the time it was cancelled by the council, Alan Beer, of Carpenter Investments, which was the chosen developer, said the decision was “outrageous” and that four years of work and £100,000 was “wasted”.
More recently, Mr Beer said his company is busy with other schemes, but did not rule out a possible return if the council asked.