On 19 July 2019, the Council’s Cabinet endorsed the plan for the Council to purchase St Modwen’s assets in Kirkby town centre. These assets include the existing shopping centre as well as other sites earmarked for development, including land south of Cherryfield Drive.
We are well aware that there is significant community interest in what is going on in terms of Kirkby town centre – the best way of keeping up to date is to check this page, which will be kept up to date with the latest developments as they happen.
October 2019: Update on progress
People are understandably very keen to know how long this process is going to take and there are also some people who think that the council “mustn’t be doing anything”, because they can’t see actual building work taking place in the town centre yet. The fact is that this is a very big and very complex project and it is therefore taking time to get all of the necessary work completed. The detailed work which is being carried out at the moment may not involve bricks being laid but it is nonetheless an essential part of delivering a successful redevelopment for Kirkby – which is what everyone wants.
Anybody who has bought a home to live in knows how long it takes for surveys, searches, legal documents, finances and so on to be arranged. A straightforward house purchase usually takes two to three months – and that’s just for one property!
In this case, the council is buying 100 properties – 87 existing shops, 10 which are going to be built, two drive-through restaurants, and a petrol station – as well as 12.4 acres of land. The council is also buying elements of St Modwen’s business (including assets, liabilities, financial records etc). It will be taking on contracts which were negotiated by St Modwen with a large number of third parties.
There’s a huge amount of work involved – after all, when this deal is done, it will be the single biggest purchase that the council has ever made in its history. A purchase this complex takes a while to complete.
The council has a team of officers working full-time on the Kirkby town centre acquisition and excellent progress is being made.
After some negotiation, the purchase price was agreed with St Modwen back in July and since then the council has examined no fewer than 320 leases, investigated 12.4 acres of land, undertaken building surveys for 87 existing shops, reviewed the design and construction detail for the new retail, food and beverage units and petrol station, scrutinised the construction contracts and pricing, made arrangements for insurance, and established a business plan for the future management and operation of the town centre… and the list goes on!
Whilst we all want to see construction work happening on site as soon as possible, it is important to be clear and realistic about the work that has to be done before we get to that stage. Anyone who claims that “nothing is happening” is gravely underestimating the work which goes into a deal like this. Again though, excellent progress is being made, and residents should be reassured that this project will be coming to Kirkby soon.
What is happening to the vacant former St Chad’s Clinic building on St Chad’s Drive?
Planning approval was secured on 1 November 2018 to demolish the former St Chad’s Clinic and use the site for a temporary car park (to be used while St Modwen built the new retail development in the town centre). However, in view of the delays in St Modwen progressing their retail development scheme, the demolition was put on hold. Now that the Council is progressing with its plans to step in to bring forward the new retail development, we will demolish the building and we will use the site as a temporary car park as required during the construction of the new retail development. The demolition process will commence during week commencing 9 September 2019 with the erection of hoardings around the site. Read more about the demolition.
The building is in very poor condition and any future occupier would need to find around £150,000 to bring it up to standard, as well as a significant maintenance budget to keep on top of its condition thereafter. It has been vacant for quite some time, during which the Council has received no practical interest from any potential user.
What is happening to the vacant former Royal Naval Association (RNA) Club building on Cherryfield Drive?
Again, now that the Council is progressing the retail development scheme in Kirkby, we also plan to demolish this obsolete building. Planning approval for the demolition was secured on 23 May 2019. Over the coming weeks, site hoardings will be erected around this site with demolition of the building commencing in October 2019.
What are the plans for the land south of Cherryfield Drive?
The Council will be arranging a public consultation exercise so that local residents can have their say on what they would like to see on this site. Work is still under way for the Council to secure ownership of this land by signing legal agreements with St Modwen. Our priority is for construction to start on the retail development and, once that scheme has commenced, we will arrange the consultation on the wider town centre area. Further details about the consultation exercise will be shared once confirmed.
Will housing be built on the college site on Cherryfield Drive?
The Council’s Cabinet gave approval to proceed with the purchase on 19 July 2019, so it is very early days and no formal decisions have been made on this site. We will be working up wider plans for Kirkby town centre which includes all of the sites in the town centre and the land to the south of Cherryfield Drive and a public consultation process will follow to enable everyone to have their say before any formal plans are approved. In addition, any development would be subject to formal consultation as part of the planning process.
Have you heard back from St Modwen about your offer?
Yes, St Modwen’s Board has agreed to accept our offer and our Cabinet agreed on 19 July 2019 to go ahead with the purchase of St Modwen’s assets in Kirkby town centre.
The conclusion of the deal will mean that the Council will for the first time have control of Kirkby town centre. We will be able to kick-start the regeneration of the town centre which has been promised by various private sector organisations over the last 20 years.
Our offer to St Modwen is justifiable and affordable. Until all of the detailed legal agreements have been signed, the offer will remain commercially sensitive. We have to respect St Modwen’s confidentiality with this business deal. We will share further details once everything has been finalised.
This is great news for everyone – residents, existing businesses, new businesses and investors.
What does the ‘deal’ include?
The deal includes the Council acquiring the existing shopping centre, the new retail development (including a new supermarket, petrol station and other stores), and land to the south of Cherryfield Drive.
Do you have any other plans for Kirkby town centre?
Yes, as well as the deal to purchase St Modwen’s assets, the Cabinet has also (19 July 2019) agreed plans to deliver a cinema and restaurants/bars scheme (on the former Kirkby Library site on Newtown Gardens) and purchase the Knowsley College site on Cherryfield Drive. The College has plans to secure accommodation closer to the town centre – something they have wanted to do for some time. Purchasing the Cherryfield Drive site from them will enable the College to progress with their plans to relocate to new premises in the heart of the town centre.
What timescales are you looking at/what are the next steps?
Now that a deal has been secured, there will be a lot of “behind the scenes” activity taking place to agree and sign a number of detailed legal agreements and agree the various schedules of work and timetables. We are looking to get this work done as soon as possible and will then make the details public. We are keen for work to commence on site as soon as possible, but we need the legal work to be completed as a priority.
What about the planning application which has just been advertised?
We are currently consulting on some detailed amendments to the approved retail scheme. The amendments arise from detailed design and layout work and also seek to increase the number of pumps at the petrol station. Some of the amendments have come directly at the request of Morrisons, which further demonstrates their commitment to this scheme. You can view the planning application here.