Up to 600 new street trees, a rejuvenated park and other environmental improvements are set to benefit neighbourhoods surrounding the Wirral Waters development, marking the start of ambitious plans for the greening of the local area.
The £1.4 million tree planting project in partnership with Peel Holdings is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) through the Forestry's Commission's Newlands programme, and will be delivered by The Mersey Forest over the next three years, beginning this winter. The funding includes community consultation and establishment of the trees for the first five years. Wirral Council has agreed to take responsibility for the long-term care of the trees.
The scheme will brighten key transport routes into Birkenhead's docks to enhance local neighbourhoods, provide more attractive walking and cycling routes to Wirral Waters, and demonstrate to investors that the area's regeneration is moving beyond its planning phase into delivery on the ground.
The first 170 trees will be planted by March 2013 at locations including Hoylake Road, Duke Street, Gaultby Road and parts of Ilchester Park. These areas provide routes to some of the first parts of Wirral Waters to be developed, such as around the International Trade Centre at West Float, where site preparation works have now begun.
Richard Mawdsley, Development Surveyor for Peel Holdings said: "This investment has been drawn in as a consequence of the partnership approach Peel is taking to improve the wider area as well as the land it owns. Against a wider backdrop of austerity and funding cuts, this project has continued because of and to support Wirral Waters.
"From the start we have taken an inclusive approach to make sure that existing residents and businesses in Birkenhead, Wallasey and Seacombe are able to share in the benefits that the project will bring. This tree planting supports our approach of working with partners to improve the streets and neighbourhoods around Wirral Waters to connect local people with new jobs and opportunities as Wirral Waters is developed."
Residents along affected routes are now being consulted on the intended plantings.
Keith Jones, the Forestry Commission's Area Director North West and West Midlands, said: "For Wirral Waters to reach its full potential and provide thousands of new local jobs, we need to first work together to provide a greener, more attractive local environment. This is what will set the scene for future investment and provide the foundations for the transformation of the area."
Stuart Kirkman of BIS said: "The Government is committed to creating the conditions for the private sector to grow and removing unnecessary barriers that can stifle growth. Improving the image of the local area around Wirral Waters will contribute to both of these goals."
Cllr Phil Davies Leader of Wirral Council said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to create brighter, healthier neighbourhoods as part of the regeneration of the area. The coming weeks now provide an important chance for residents to find out more about the plans and have their say on how they would like to see their greener streets take shape – we encourage as many people as possible to get involved."
The project is also partially funded by the DfT via the Merseyside Local Sustainable Transport Fund, aimed at promoting and supporting sustainable access to employment opportunities in Merseyside and is delivered as part of Merseyside's TravelWise campaign.
A wider programme of tree planting is also planned for the local area as Wirral Waters moves forward.
Photo: Visualisation of how Ilchester Park may look as a result of the project. Created using Visualise2D.