Muse has been chosen as Wirral Council’s joint venture partner ahead of a rival bid team of Scarborough Group and BCEGI, to bring forward its £1bn waterfront regeneration plan, which is to include offices, a new cinema, 262 homes, industrial space, and leisure.

Wirral Council will sign off proposals to form the Wirral Growth Company joint venture (JV) with Muse at a special cabinet meeting next week, with the JV split 50/50 between the two parties. Any profit from the development will also be split 50/50.

Initial proposals by Muse across the project, which covers 11 sites in Birkenhead, Bromborough, Bebington, Moreton, and Wallasey, include:

  • 334,000 sq ft of Grade A office space with ground floor retail uses
  • A 51,000 sq ft market facility
  • A new cinema and leisure facility
  • Two multi-storey car parks providing 920 spaces
  • 312,000 sq ft of industrial space
  • 262 homes
  • An extra care development in Moreton

Muse plans to complete the first phase of the development by 2022, according to the council.  Place North West also understands that some of the office space is earmarked as a new headquarters for Wirral Council.

Procurement for the £1bn plan started last year and concluded in December.  Three parties were initially in discussions over the project: Engie Regeneration with Ion; Muse working with Morgan Sindall; and Scarborough with BCEGI.  Place North West first revealed the shortlist for the scheme in October last year.

The council then whittled down its shortlist to two, with final tenders submitted on 3 January this year, after the Engie and Ion team stepped away from discussions in November.

The final bids included financial models; business plans for the joint venture; and a funding proposal for a commercial centre in Birkenhead.

According to the council’s report, Muse’s bid scored 65% against the council’s criteria, while the Scarborough and BCEGI bid scored 59%.

The council said Muse had demonstrated “a strong track record in delivering successful partnerships with the public sector, and it would bring the skills, experience, and learning from those other partnerships to Wirral”, but also added both bidders “submitted masterplans that exceeded expectations”.

Sources close to the bid process said the Scarborough/BCEGI bid team was considered to be the early favourite, and said the procurement process had “moved very quickly” since starting last year, with the competitive dialogue process completing in around four months as opposed to the more usual 12-18 months.

Muse will now be required to work up further site specific proposals and refine its business plan by the end of May, with the first set of planning applications due to be submitted in the summer.
The council has already agreed to release £3m of capital funding for strategic acquisitions for the JV.

Cllr Phil Davies, leader of Wirral Council, said: “This programme will, over the next few years, help create more than 3,000 new jobs for local residents.  Jobs in construction, retail, hospitality and tourism will see a huge boost throughout our borough as our regeneration plans are kick started through the Growth Company.

“This programme will provide real benefits for the council, the borough and the entire City Region. We are now in the position to take a leading role in creating the Wirral we want to see for our residents.”

A Muse spokesperson said: “We’re delighted to be recommended as Wirral Borough Council’s preferred development partner.

Wirral Growth Company offers an extremely exciting opportunity for redevelopment and regeneration across the borough and we’re looking forward to working alongside the Council to help deliver their vision.”

Source: Charlie Schouten, Place North West, 21 February 2018