Wirral Matters

WIRRAL MATTERS – Summer 2024

News and views from the Wirral Society – an environmental watchdog since 1928 (Also The Wirral District Committee of CPRE)

Wirral’s Local Plan

Since our last issue, the Inspectors appointed by the Government have concluded that the Plan is capable of being made ‘sound’. This is the best outcome that could have been expected. It will now run from 2022 – 2040.

Image of the Local Plan document

We have been assured by the Council that both in terms of the ‘Modifications’ required by the Inspectors and the Management Plans, there was much work going on ‘behind the scenes’. This was within both the Planning Department and the Council generally, to gear them up to delivering the regeneration work in Birkenhead and Wallasey as set out in the Local Plan.

Proposed Crematoria off Hooton Road, Hooton

In the last issue we reported that in Cheshire West and Chester (CW&C), the very active residents’ group – the Hooton & District Residents’ Association (HADRA) – had, with this Society’s advice and support, became formal objectors. It supported the Council at an Appeal by two companies seeking to build two crematoria close to one another in the Cheshire Green Belt.

The Appeal was held recently and HADRA were pleased that their representative had been able to make a strong case against these evelopments, citing that no ‘Very Special Circumstances’ were applicable.

This support has posed a heavy financial strain on local environmental groups, including ourselves. We and other groups have already made significant donations from our funds to employ planners and barristers. If you are able to make a personal donation to the Wirral Green Spaces Alliance (WGSA) fund to help pay for that help, your donation would be of great help in bolstering our efforts. Please go to:

Birkenhead Town Centre

Mallory_and_Irvine_buildings - Birkenhead

We have established that Wirral Council approved this development back in 2021 and that these two boring buildings named ‘Mallory’ & ‘Irvine’, could well be part of a wider development. We are very much hoping this will not prove to be so.

As we said in the last issue, we had expected that sixty years on, all new developments in the town centre would have been ‘visionary’ and represent the best of the latest architectural practice. Sadly this seems not to be the case.

Proposed design of the new Marks & Spencer’s store in Oxford Street
Proposed design of the new Marks & Spencer’s store in Oxford Street

However, a cynic might say that where Birkenhead leads in the ‘boring’ stakes, London will follow.

Re-thatching of Bebington Cottage

We commend the owner of this cottage, who has been prepared to go to the trouble and extra expense of having the building re-thatched.

Picture of thatched cottage in Bebington
Photo: Judith Railton

Updates on Outstanding Casework

Vineyard Farm Barn, Poulton

The Society made representations several months ago to Wirral Council, pointing out the very real threat by neglect to this historic cruck-framed barn; perhaps the oldest building of its kind now surviving in the Peninsula and Listed Grade II.

We were pleased to be told that a meeting had taken place in February between the Council and representatives from the owners, Persimmon Homes. At the meeting it was agreed the owners would commission a structural survey of the building. Once the Council had received this, the owners would submit a Listed Building Application for the proposed restoration works.

The Council had asked the owners to take immediate measures to improve the security of the site, remove fencing and investigate the possibility of temporarily covering the building.

We are currently trying to establish from the Council whether they have heard from Persimmon on any progress made.


Jellicoe Water Feature, Moreton

In the last issue, we were continuing to monitor how the builders, Persimmon Homes, who now own this former Burton/Cadbury site, have been progressing with the restoration of this Listed Water Feature, designed by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe.


Unfortunately, we have still not received any reply from the Company to our recent contact with them. In our letter, we thanked them for the improvements they had made to the Cascade so far, and asked about the issues of on-going maintenance and its restoration to full working order. This was a specific ‘Section 106’ Condition made by Wirral Council when it granted Planning Permission for the construction of the houses.

Former Garage, A540 Burton

Image of abandoned site of an old garage alongside the A540 road at Burton, Wirral

Shortly before publication, we learned that the owner of this long-derelict building had recently lodged a planning application to build two houses on the site, which had been refused by the Council.

We would have liked to have known about this before now and are currently trying to find out more, including the grounds of the refusal.

Pedestrian Guard-Rail at Two Mills

The damage to the pedestrian guard-rail in this prominent position by the ‘Tudor Rose’, has been an issue for some time and the subject of regular reminders to Cheshire West Council for it to be removed.

So we were pleased that shortly before going to press, we were contacted by thje Council to say its maintenance team would be removing the railing ‘that day’.

This was good news and, assuming that the work went ahead, it will make a small but noticeable improvement to that area.

We have sent our thanks to the Council.

Eco-Projects in Schools

To reflect on one of the many interests of our late President, Professor John Tarn, the Society has expanded its plans to encourage local schools to undertake – or expand on – the creation of various eco projects by means of seed-funding.

The most recent are:

Castleway Primary, Leasowe

Castleway Primary, Leasowe , showing view of School eco-project progress
Photo: Judith Railton

The school will make two raised beds by an existing seated pergola (see photo) to give a quiet enclosed space for students’ well-being.

The School hopes to use the Society’s grant to develop two raised beds leading to the pergola. They currently have a pond and planters containing herbs and vegetable in an indoor/outdoor space within the school.

St. Peter & Paul Primary,
New Brighton

Photo: Judith Railton

The school plans to develop a safe pond area in an area with recently planted, in an area which currently contains mixed hedging a bug hotel and mature tree. They already use withies from a willow tree they have in another outdoor area for school projects, and are working on planting a green wall beside the playground.

Both schools use enthusiastic volunteers to extend the use of any grant money they receive. We are currently inviting schools in the Ellesmere Port area to take up our offer of grants.

70 Argyle Street

We are concerned about this interesting building, which stands alone alongside the disused railway cutting in Argyle Street in the centre of Birkenhead.

For many years it has seemed rather forlorn and thus a prime candidate for demolition.

However two years ago, we noted that scaffolding was erected around the building, where it would appear that just essential work to safeguard the building was carried out by way of roof repairs, securing the upper storey from pigeons and the removal of vegetation.

Whilst this was reassuring, it would be better still if the building were smartened up. This in turn, might serve to attract a new use – so securing its future in the longer term.

Council-sponsored Roadside Advertising

The Society recently received an invitation from Cheshire West Council to rent a roadside advertising space on Dunkirk Roundabout outside Costco, which they promote as being part of ‘Chester’s most viewed and trusted local advertising platform’.

The Society has replied saying it recognises Council budgets are stretched and the need to look for new ways of raising income. However, the Society considers this means of advertising using roadside signage:

  • Sends out the wrong message – especially to those who will assume that if the Council can put up signs, then they can also do so –
  • Encourages the scourge of illegal ‘fly posting’, and
  • A distraction for motorists – especially on roundabouts where drivers need to exercise the most attention to the road.

Proposed Mersey Tidal Barrage

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority met recently to consider a proposal for generating predictable energy for the River Mersey, by means of using submerged turbines.

The team working on finding the best solution, concluded in its report that a barrage option would be less expensive than a lagoon, also requiring less material and lower levels of government support. The Team suggested a barrage would offer other advantages, including the possibility of a pedestrian and cycle link between Liverpool and the Wirral Peninsula and could help manage long-term environment issues related to climate change, including managing the effects of sea-level rise on the Mersey.

The Authority approved the recommendation and agreed to start the formal planning process by preparing a ‘scoping opinion’ to be submitted to the Planning Inspector later this year. It will also include a consultation period. If it is built, it would be the world’s largest tidal-power scheme.

It’s early days for us to come to any firm conclusion on this proposal. The Society has been keen to support renewable energy initiatives in principle, but with the caveat that any schemes would be ‘environmentally friendly’ – in that they would have minimal impact on the small-scale landscape of the Wirral Peninsula and also the ecology of the river.

We have followed the work of the Tidal Energy Team over recent years in their evaluation of the many facets of what will make a successful cost effective scheme to use the tidal power of the Mersey. From what we’d gleaned, we had rather expected the outcome to be a one which would embody a range of turbines occupying a portion of the estuary sea-floor, with little or nothing visible on the surface. This proposal has therefore come as something of a surprise.

We recall Peel Energy’s similar proposal further up-river some years ago, which failed to proceed. This may have been due to it not being able to source sufficient financial support from the Government by way of subsidies, coupled with the impact on the wildlife of the Estuary. It will be interesting to find out how it’s thought this scheme will succeed where Peel’s failed. We will find out more during this coming consultation period and give the proposal our full consideration.

An artist's impression of the Mersey Tidal Barrage

Reception for Environmental Groups

Image of people at a reception for environmental groups of Wirral hosted by Wirral Borough Council

The Chairman recently represented the Society at a Reception at Birkenhead Town Hall, given by the Mayor & Mayoress of Wirral Council, Councillor and Mrs Jerry Williams. In his speech, the Mayor thanked our organisation and others, for their interest and involvement in the Borough’s history and its environment.

Help Required

Vacancy for a Secretary

For the last 21 years the Society has been very fortunate to have had the services of David Casement as Secretary to our committee. David is now retiring and we are looking for a volunteer to take his place.

David’s work mainly involves booking the venue for speaker meetings and managing the arrangements of the day, dealing with some of the society’s correspondence (both by email and letter) and keeping in touch with both our members and other bodies and reporting back, as and when required.

If you or anyone you know might be interested in taking on this role we would be very pleased to hear from them. Please contact us using our online form.

Editor:  Rod Tann (Hard copies of this issue are sent to the Archives of Wirral & Chester, The British Library & Scottish Deposits.)

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