Eye-catching shopfronts, cycle track and new life for a disused pub as Mayor’s Town Centre Fund revamps Wirral high streets

  • £173,000 shopfront renovation scheme for businesses in Liscard

  • Disused New Ferry pub turned into flats and sewing boutique

  • Purpose-built ‘pump’ cycle track in Central Park is first in Wirral

  • Floral displays win prestigious North West in Bloom award

  • Traders tell of benefits

Watch the video with audio description

Town centres in Liscard and New Ferry have been revitalised thanks to Mayor Steve Rotheram’s Town Centre Fund.

Liscard was given £500,000 to help regenerate the centre and stimulate growth with business and community grants, while nearby Central Park saw a new cycle ‘pump’ track.

New Ferry – which saw its town centre devastated by a gas explosion in 2017 – also received £500,000 which was used to convert a disused pub into four flats and two business units.

The improvements came from the Mayor’s Town Centre Fund which set aside £6m – up to £1 million for each of the city region’s six local authorities – to support plans to revitalise town centres.

It has funded masterplan strategies, public realm improvements, physical and digital infrastructure, business support, town centre management and events and marketing activities.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:

“Devolution has given the region the chance to chart our own course with local people choosing the priorities for our area. I launched my Mayoral Town Centre Fund when I was first elected to help rejuvenate our high streets, helping local councils to invest and to inject life back into the hearts of their communities.

“By working with our local authorities we have taken action to ensure they thrive over the next 20 years and now we are starting to see the results in our local communities.

“Empty shop premises are being transformed to create new spaces fit for the 21st century, high streets are being updated and important infrastructure has been put in place.”

“This is proper levelling up in action, giving local people the space and support they need to create, to learn and to build a brighter future for themselves.”

Read more: The ten town centres identified for initial investment inder the town centre fund 

Liscard’s business grants scheme awarded a total of £173,000 to 33 small independent businesses in the town to upgrade shop frontages, signage and install high tech sales systems.

A community grants scheme awarded £75,000 to nine local organisations who delivered a range of cultural and community impact activities around the town.

Liscard Community Links, which is run by volunteers, embarked on an initiative to make the town more green and attractive by planting basket and container floral displays on the high street.

They involved local residents by running gardening skills workshops and worked with local business owners to maintain the displays, as well as planting daffodil fields with local school children.

Last year the group achieved an Outstanding RHS North West in Bloom It’s Your Neighbourhood Award in recognition of their work.

Sarah Spoor of Liscard Community Links said:

“We planted new basket and barrel displays throughout the town centre to add a splash of colour through the year, as well as sowing pocket wildflower meadows and herb boxes.

“When we are maintaining the plants, we often have people commenting to say thank you and how much they appreciate efforts to improve the town centre, they tell us that it makes Liscard look cared for and helps them to feel better, more uplifted and they take pride in the town.”

Read more: Mayor’s landmark commission’s vision for the revitalisation of town centres

Central Park’s sunken garden was converted into a cycle pump track whilst new street lighting and CCTV cameras were installed along Liscard Way to improve safety and deter vandalism.

New Ferry’s Shillings Pub was brought back to life after being closed for three years and converted into flats and commercial space.

The landmark three-storey building, built in 1901 and also a former Nat West bank, will generate affordable rental income and is home to the New Ferry Community Land Trust and Becky’s Unique Sewing Boutique.

Margaret Kegg, Chair, New Ferry Community Land Trust, said:

“The grant has helped us use a former vacant building to provide space for two businesses in New Ferry, whilst four new flats will soon be completed and offered to local people in desperate need of a home.

“In addition, with galvanised community support, rental income from the property and other grants we have been able to attract as match-funding have seen colourful new planters installed on the railings along new Chester Road; we have organised three successful festivals in New Ferry Park, pop-up markets in New Ferry’s precinct, funded the town’s Christmas lights; and paid for environmental improvements around New Ferry including encouraging residents to tidy up alleyways and create community gardens on redundant open space.

“Completing this summer, the building project funded by the Mayor has provided New Ferry with its own asset that will generate a sustainable income to be reinvested back into the community for generations to come.”

Read more:public engagement on blueprint for Liverpool City Region’s development until 2040

Helen Budworth, owner of WOW Flowers, said:

“Thanks to the grant I have got a nice modern sign that’s lit up which looks absolutely beautiful and makes the shop stand out a lot more than it ever did. All my customers, people who have never been before, have commented on it. They didn’t know I was here before and now they do – I would never, ever have been able to buy that sign without the grant.”

Watch the video with audio description

Matthew Houghton, Chief Executive Hype Merseyside, whose organisation offers cycle training and provides sport and play activities for young people, said:

“The pump track is definitely needed for all areas of the city region. Ultimately, it engages young people and brings them to this space with their mountain bikes, BMXs and even scooters.

“As an organisation, we are all about getting more people cycling and bringing them to safe spaces like this to improve their skills – whether that be a family, a five-year-old on a balance bike or teenagers. This is the only purpose-built pump track on the Wirral so people are travelling here to use it.

“Hundreds of young people have been on this since it opened last summer from the ages of seven to 17, up and down, falling off, as you would expect, but enjoying themselves. The more assets like this are used, the safer people feel in the park.”

Niall Lucas-Brown, a bike recycling assistant and BMX rider who uses the track, said:

“A pump track is made with a lot of rollers so the way you get around it is by pushing your weight down rather than pedalling, hence why it is called a pump track. There are no pump tracks on the Wirral other than Ellesmere Port and Chester really so other than this we would have to trek into the middle of Liverpool so now that we have got one local it is brilliant.”

Councillor Mike Wharton, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Business, said:

“This fund has clearly had a positive effect on our high streets and town centres and the sheer range of schemes is a testament to its success. From health and advice centres to community safety, creative spaces, cycle facilities and shopfront renovation, each of the six local authority areas has found ways to address issues which are important to their residents, adding vibrancy and making our communal spaces more attractive.”

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