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Wirral appoints Muse as regeneration partner

Wirral council looks set to appoint Muse Developments as its partner in a new regeneration joint venture.

The council’s cabinet will meet on Wednesday 28 February to vote on appointing the north west firm as the council’s partner in the Wirral Growth Company, which will play a key role in boosting the local economy, providing new jobs and delivering new housing.

Under the proposals, all profits from the development company will be split 50-50, with the council’s share to be reinvested in delivering frontline services.

‘As a public sector organisation we have strict procurement rules to follow to ensure the legal and financial elements of the deal are the best possible for the council, but I also wanted to make sure Wirral got the best possible social outcomes from the deal,’ said council leader, Phil Davies.

‘That is why we have included commitments to hire locally, buy supplies from and contract with local firms, train local workers, and meet the highest environmental, health and safety standards in the deal.”

He also stressed the importance of ensuring Wirral Growth Company also makes sound commercial sense for the local authority.

‘Too often, local authorities sell land or assets to private speculators or developers, and beyond those initial land value receipts, take no benefit from any development that follows,’ he added.

‘Similarly, other than through the limited planning controls at its disposal, councils relinquish any influence over the speed, purpose and quality of what does or doesn’t ultimately get built.

‘With the deal being proposed, we will have full involvement in every development decision, we will benefit from the economic growth any regeneration creates and, as a 50-50 joint venture, we will benefit from the profits the development delivers – money the council can reinvest in frontline services our residents rely on,’ added the council leader.

Wirral launched the search for its joint venture partner last year at the international property conference Mipim.

More than 100 developers, investors and construction firms took part in a soft-testing exercise organised by the council.

Following that exercise, bidding parties were than asked to explain how they would go about creating new office space in Birkenhead, affordable housing in Seacombe and care facilities in Morton.

‘The standard of the final bids we received was very high,’ added Cllr Davies. ‘Those who say the council should or could do this alone are mistaken. These are projects, which simply cannot be developed by the council in isolation: we don’t have the required resources, skills or capacity to achieve regeneration on this scale without a partner.

‘If cabinet accept my recommendation to create the joint venture, the next steps include starting the conversation with local residents about what, where, when and how regeneration begins across Wirral,’ he added.

‘Wirral Growth Company may well be seen as an important first step in shaping our 21st century economic fortunes.’

  • For more information, read the cabinet paper here:

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