new Asda store in Birkenhead after public inquiry

A government inspector has ruled that plans to build a new supermarket in Birkenhead should go ahead.

A public inquirynnnnnnnn was held in May when Wirral Council defended its intention to use Compulsory Purchase Orders to buy out properties on Grange Road to make way for a new Asda supermarket.

The major scheme had already been granted planning permission and some preparatory work already undertaken.

B&M Retail Ltd, which would have had to relocate, had objected to the proposal.

Its owners said there had been no satisfactory evidence that the development would be viable, especially in the current economic climate, and that it would have "an adverse effect" on the road.

Alternative locations suggested for the store have been turned down for "legitimate business reasons."

B&M's written objection said that if the CPO went ahead, its Grange Road store would have to close and jobs would be lost.

But the council argued the food store would regenerate the town centre by attracting new shoppers whose cash is currently being spent elsewhere in the borough, including at out-of-centre stores.

Its written report to the inquiry stated: "Far from adversely affecting the vitality and viability of the town centre the scheme would positively enhance it."

Inspector Christina Downes' review says that the existing downturn in the economy is a factor to take into account.

"However, it seems to me that there are a number of factors that may indicate that this particular project is subject to a relatively low degree of risk.

"I consider overall that a reasonable case has been made by (Wirral Council) to justify the making of the CPO.

"The inquiry gave the objectors the chance to have their say but in the event they declined to take that opportunity or to question the various witnesses put forward.

"Taking all of the above matters into account, I consider that there is a compelling case in the public interest and that in this case it outweighs the private loss."

The supermarket is being developed by Castlewood Developments and will see an 8,800 sq mtr Asda being built along with extra car parking.

Several properties - opposite the former Woolworth's on the corner of Catherine Street - will now need to be demolished.

It is expected the bulldozers will move in immediately after vacant possession, and that the shell of the building would be completed within about 60 weeks.

Car parking for the new store will be accessible to both Asda shoppers and other visitors to the town centre and will provide 690 spaces in total.