The new Wirral Met College Campus at Wirral Waters took another step forward today (August 8th) with the project approved by Wirral Council planning officials.
The approval comes as The Peel Group, the developers behind Wirral Waters, reveal the new designs for the waterfront campus.
Peel and Wirral Met have been collaborating for some time in order that the college courses are aligned to the workforce needs of Wirral Waters and the wider economy, with courses in the renewable energy and construction sectors.
Richard Mawdsley, Project Director at Peel said: “Wirral Met College will be the first new building within Wirral Waters. Since we received planning permission for Wirral Waters back in May 2012, we’ve been focussed on site preparation, remediation and infrastructure – all of which take time and all are needed to enable us to start delivery.
“The new College is all about putting skills and training at the centre of Wirral Waters. Wirral Met are an exemplar FE college and will be training young adults with relevant skills aligned to local industries.
The campus will be developed in partnership between Wirral Met and Peel with funding from the Skills Funding Agency (SFA), the College and Peel.
It marks a step forward for Wirral Waters, a 30+ year vision to transform 500 acres of Birkenhead dockland. Wirral Waters is an exemplar scheme within Peel’s Ocean Gateway regeneration strategy for the North West which features more than 50 projects with £50 billion of private investment over the next 50 years.
Sue Higginson, Principal of Wirral Met College said: “The College delivery programme is challenging as we are targeting to have the building completed for students in September 2015. We have worked very
closely with Peel’s design team – who established the detailed needs of the College early in the process. We are delighted with the end result – a building that is in essence ‘an essay in construction’. We want the building itself to teach students about construction techniques”.
Phil Davies, Leader of Wirral Council, said: “I am proud to see the hard work by the Council, Peel, Wirral Met College and our other partners is starting to pay off. This is an extremely important and positive development. Wirral Waters can be the catalyst for huge growth in the construction and advanced manufacturing sectors not just in the region but across the entire north of England. Making sure that Wirral people have the skills to play a role in this growth is vital for both the local economy and for the businesses that will be creating jobs here. It is absolutely fitting that the first building on the Wirral Waters site will be the one that is used to create the skills which will ensure the rest of the development fulfils all of our hopes and expectations.”
The site preparation and remediation of the site itself has been made possible by a £2.5 million repayable loan from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to Peel.
The HCA loan has come via the Local Infrastructure Fund (LIF). Peel has described the HCA loan as an “essential component” to Wirral Waters and in the SFA’s decision to award grant funding.
Mawdsley adds: “We have been working closely with the HCA. There is a need to remediate many of the sites within Wirral Waters. Old dock sites tend to have their fair share of issues in the ground and the HCA’s support to this element of development has been essential”.
The joint Mersey Water Enterprise Zone plans in Wirral and Liverpool forms one of only 24 Enterprise Zones in the country. Enterprise Zone status gives businesses tax incentives to support growth and job creation.
Deborah McLaughlin, Executive Director for the North West at the HCA, said: “We’ve been working closely with partners to help develop plans for Wirral Waters, so it is excellent news that we’ve been able to invest in Tower Road South. This work should act as a catalyst for future development, helping to make the wider area more appealing for investors and in turn having a great impact on jobs and the local economy.”