About the proposed neighbourhood area

The proposed neighbourhood area initially submitted to Wirral Council for designation by Birkenhead & Tranmere Neighbourhood Planning Forum (BATNPF) included the traditional geographies of both Birkenhead and Tranmere, which until 2003 were administered as parts of different wards.  Consideration was given to whether a separate Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) should be developed for each part of the ward.  However, this idea was dismissed because some of the issues which BATNPF seeks to tackle may only be addressed by developing a single NDP for the entire Birkenhead & Tranmere area.

Some Birkenhead residents feel that the area suffers unreasonably from the detrimental effects of planning decisions, including the evident concentration of services for people with intense support needs, whose clients have caused significant disruption to both residential and business communities over the past several years. Residents also feel that planning control of bars and nightclubs has been detrimental to residents in Birkenhead.  BATNPF would like to see planning policy and decision-taking being joined-up and made more consistent with other Wirral communities, to avoid undue disadvantage and harm to the living conditions of residents and the commercial interests of all businesses in Birkenhead.  Care needs to be exercised, however, that these problems are not simply displaced from Birkenhead into Tranmere.

Similarly, people in the predominantly residential area of Tranmere rely on the shops, services and jobs located in the predominantly commercial Birkenhead area, which is the nearest town centre for everyone in Birkenhead & Tranmere Ward.  Consequently, it was decided that the neighbourhood area should be drawn in such a way to allow Tranmere residents, as well as Birkenhead’s residents and workers, to influence the future development of the commercial and retail core of Birkenhead.

Residents of both Birkenhead and Tranmere feel that local planning policy could do more to support the economic growth of Birkenhead as the district’s principal town, taking greater advantage of its location, qualities and assets – both actual and potential – to attract investors and potential new residents.

About the designated neighbourhood area

On 27 July 2015 the Cabinet of Wirral Council took the decision to designate only part of the proposed neighbourhood area put forward by BATNPF as the ‘Birkenhead & Tranmere Neighbourhood Area’.  It reasons for doing so are published on the Documents page of this website.  BATNPF took legal advice about the possibility of challenging the Council’s decision in the High Court.  Although there were two clear grounds for judicial review, the advice also stated that, should the Council be forced to revisit its decision, it is unlikely that the outcome would be any different from the quashed decision.  Proceeding with a judicial review application on the basis of such advice would have entailed a high level of exposure to an award of costs against BATNPF officers.  Consequently, it was decided to look for other ways to continue to work with people who live outside the designated neighbourhood area.

A decision to concentrate solely upon neighbourhood planning would have required the expulsion of a significant number of members and the Management Committee found this unacceptable because it would tend to undermine the credibility of BATNPF as a grassroots community organisation.

Thus, at its fifth general meeting, held on 28 September 2015, it was decided that BATNPF would accept the Council’s decision and introduce two classes of membership in order to manage voting rights for neighbourhood plan issues.  The area of benefit would be pulled back to the Birkenhead & Tranmere Ward boundary (with the exception of Holborn Square and about 35 houses in Holt Road and Sidney Road)  and the Management Committee would investigate the use of other legislative ‘levers’ for enhancing the role of all Birkenhead & Tranmere residents in local decision-taking, including the possibility of creating a new ‘Birkenhead & Tranmere Parish Council’.

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