Doubts over when Wirral’s ITC will open
A KEY development intended to kick-start the £4.5bn Wirral Waters scheme may not be ready in time for next year’s International Festival of Business.
The £175m International Trade Centre in Birkenhead docks was intended to be the key Wirral location for events during the festival in June and July 2014.
Despite highly encouraging responses from potential tenants for the ITC, Peel’s development director Lindsey Ashworth said he did not want to start building until they are legally signed up.
The company say they have had massive interest from Chinese companies but now must ensure they have the right mix of businesses based at the ITC to ensure it for the long term.
A detailed planning application for the ITC is expected to be submitted to the council late in February, but Mr Ashworth said he expects to “start to sign people up in the summer”.
Mr Ashworth is also part of Wirral’s Investment Strategy Board which brings together the council’s investment strategy team, leaders of its three political parties, and key industry figures from the region.
The board is tasked with driving business growth and securing investment into the borough.
Wirral council’s interim strategic director for regeneration and environment, Kevin Adderley said: “Peel will start building when they have received legal commitments and signed up end users.
“I remain confident that will be in the next few months. However, we understand they cannot commit to the building being finished, open and occupied at the time of the International Festival of Business. It might be, might not be.”
Mr Adderley said he had been in talks with Clarion Events, who have been appointed to run the festival, about possible Wirral locations.
He said: “The ITC is the one we hope will be ready, but if it’s not open we will still want to have some events on or near the site, even if it’s only partly constructed or occupied.”
Council leader Phil Davies said the use of the ITC would “send a major message to the rest of the world that Wirral Waters is open for business”.
He said: “We’re still hoping we will be able to use it as a venue for our share of the festival. But if we can’t we will have to come up with some alternative sites – and there are lots of other candidates.”