Huge scheme for dockland regeneration

Mar 26 2008 Liam Murphy

A NEW dockland development on the Mersey could become the site of more than 7,000 new homes over the next 15 years.

The site near Ellesmere Port is owned by Peel Holdings, which has already announced their intention to carry out multi- billion pound developments in Liverpool and Wirral.

It has now been identified as having major regeneration potential by the local authority, who are also keen to see further expansion of the Cheshire Oaks outlet village.

Last night, leader of Ellesmere Port and Neston Council, Cllr Justin Madders, said he believed the proposals were “bigger than anything we have seen before”.

He said: “Peel are pretty confident that they can pull it off. As long as we are happy, it will contribute to regenerating the whole community – and take the needs we have identified into account – we’re behind it.”

Asked what impact it could have, he said: “I think when people travel along the M53 they will – hopefully – not recognise Ellesmere Port from where it is now.

“We are looking to emulate the success of Salford Quays which was in similar circumstances, but had the same type of dockside iconic architecture.”

The council is currently consulting on how to allow developments in the borough to proceed in the future and the site north of the boat museum has been highlighted as one of the most significant.

But the Ellesmere Port dock- land site is regarded to be more significant than first recognised.

In a consultation document, borough council planners said The Urban Potential Study (UPS) of 2006 highlighted potential of the adja- cent Ellesmere Port dock area, north of Lower Mersey Street.

It added: “Discussions with the owners of the site, Peel Holdings, have shown that there is signifi- cantly more potential than the UPS has indicated. Indeed, the potential is huge, with a prospect of 7,000-8,000 residential proper- ties being built over the next 15 years on the dockside.

“This potential is for a mixed use development comprising offices, leisure, retail, but pre- dominantly residential. This largely unused site (comprising approximately 35 hectares) offers real medium to long-term potential for a major new community and focus for growth in Ellesmere Port.”

The consultation document also says this type of development would – in its later phases – require the relocation of the current dock operation towards Eastham docks on a site straddling the Ellesmere Port and Neston/Wirral boundary.

The same document also looks at the possibility of making Ince Marshes a greenbelt site.

The Grade A site of biological importance was recently the subject of a planning application to Cheshire County Council for a waste resource recovery park.

It was refused and an appeal by the landowner and applicant Peel Holdings will be heard in 2008.

Other areas under considera- tion in the planning framework include more development of Cheshire Oaks.

The council says the major shopping outlet, originally established in 1989, and including retail, housing, employment and leisure facilities “has had a positive impact on regenerating the town, boosting image, providing jobs for local residents and providing services and facilities that did not otherwise exist in the local area”.

Cllr Madders said: “We do have thoughts about that area, but it’s too early to say if anything is going to happen there. It’s got potential and we would like to see it expanded.”