Shop to be demolished to make way for a new art deco style building

There were objections to West Kirby’s development, but councilors described the existing buildings as “dull” and “uninspiring”.

A new art deco building comprising apartments and retail space will be constructed in Wirral despite objections to the loss of a local store.

The new four-storey development will be created on the site of an existing M&Co store which currently sits on land between Sandlea Park and Dee Lane in West Kirby.

Wirral’s council planning committee voted unanimously to approve the plans at a meeting last week. The new development will include eight apartments and two commercial spaces.

The current M&Co store on Dee Lane. Credit: Google Street View.

As part of the project, two trees in Sandlea Park will be removed and replaced by the Friends of Sandlea Park who are said to be in favor.

Speaking at the planning meeting, Councilor Steve Foulkes described the current building as “quite drab and quite uninspiring”. Councilor Kathy Hodson echoed her comments adding “this is one of the nicest developments we’ve seen” and praised the “art deco style”.

Illustration of the four storey development at Dee Lane in West Kirby.

Councilor Alison Wright asked for the request to be sent to the committee as she feared it would be too high and the impact on M&Co.

Questions have been raised about the loss of large commercial spaces with the replacement of one store by two.

Kerry Northfold, head of real estate at M&Co, said the company had launched a petition which had received more than 800 signatures to plead its case.

She said it was a family business and she had been in West Kirby for 24 years and employed 10 people. This duration, she said, “just shows what we are as a company” and said it would be difficult to find a replacement location.

The view from Sandlea Park once the Dee Lane development is complete.

M&Co went into administration during the pandemic, which meant it could only sign a rolling lease on the premises. Ms Northfold ended her tenure saying: ‘Retail should be saved on the high street and this is one of those stores.’

It was pointed out that in cases like these where developments could result in the loss of a business in West Kirby, the council needs to consider how best to assist businesses that need to relocate.

Nicole Roe, Certified Planner at Eden Planning, spoke to represent the Starship Group candidates. She said Starship was focused on providing “attractive and sustainable development” in Wirral and the group was passionate about the area.

She said the development would provide 30 to 40 jobs over the 18-month construction period and around 6 full-time jobs once the two commercial spaces are leased.

Ms Roe said the new development would help Wirral Council meet its five-year housing target, was in line with the national trend of town centers away from large shops and would not put pressure on parking .

Cllr Foulkes said the view of the flat from the rear of the property would improve safety in Sandlea Park, adding “if people don’t like to be watched in the park, well, what are they doing in the park ?”

The bid was unanimously approved by the committee, saying it would be a positive contribution to one of Wirral’s main town centres.

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