Feb 13 2012 by Liam Murphy, Liverpool Echo
A SCHEME to invest £7m and create 66 new jobs by expanding a Wirral retail park looks set to be blocked by council planners.
The owners of the Croft retail park in Bromborough want to add new shops, restaurants and remodel the cinema to improve the popular retail and leisure centre.
But Wirral Council planners fear that the plans will jeopardise Birkenhead town centre’s role as the borough’s main shopping centre.
Planning officials also say the scheme by the Croft’s owners, the Universities Superannuation Scheme Ltd (USS), would result in the loss of the ten-pin bowling alley from the retail and leisure park.
Now a report to the council’s planning committee, which meets this week, recommends the plans be turned down.
A report by planning officers said the plan is recommended for refusal due to the loss of the indoor bowl sport and “the potential impact on investment and harm to the prospects for regeneration and employment within Birkenhead”.
The report says the plans would force the bowling alley to move off the leisure area of the Croft but USS has said this move could allow it to have a “sustainable future in Bromborough” as rents would be lower elsewhere.
USS’s fund manager for retail and leisure, Fergus Egan, said since USS bought the park in 1998 it has invested more than £24m and created more than 250 new jobs there.
Mr Egan said: “The park now employs nearly 1,000 people, excluding ASDA, which is not owned by USS.
“This proposal would build on previous investment and modernisation and demonstrates USS's longstanding commitment to Bromborough.
“This £7 million investment would create around 66 new jobs, help to secure the future of a bowling facility in Bromborough, modernise the Odeon cinema, and secure a vibrant leisure section at the Park where there would also be a new family-oriented restaurant.
“The investment would also bring forward improvements for pedestrian, cycle and disabled access.”
Nowhere can I see they have any plans to allow Pound shops to open, so how can it be a threat to Birkenhead???