Decision details

Delivering Wirral's Growth

Decision Maker: Cabinet

Decision status: For Determination

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: Yes



Councillor Phil Davies, Leader of Wirral Council, said:


Driving economic growth is a key priority for my administration. Only by building a strong economy can we attract well paid jobs, offer skills training and apprenticeships, and provide support for businesses based in or relocating to Wirral.


This report marks an important step in delivering that ambition. If we are to transform our economy, build better homes and continue to make quality of life improvements for all our residents, we have to make significant changes in how we are organised and better use of the assets and resources available to the authority to deliver sustainable, long-lasting benefits.


The creation of a joint venture property company – Wirral Growth Company – will bring new expertise, new ideas and new investment to Wirral.


“It will allow the Council to share in the risks but reap the rewards of the regeneration of key sites across the whole borough. It will bring benefits to our coastal communities in north and west Wirral, add to the warmth and character of towns and villages across the peninsula, and reposition Birkenhead, its waterfront and town centre as one of the most attractive investment opportunities in Britain today.


It will also provide the Council with a series of new revenue streams which can be reinvested in the services residents rely on, especially important as the Government has announced it will cease to provide funds from 2020/21.


Meeting our 2020 Pledges to increase inward investment, create new job opportunities and continue to support our thriving small business community, the joint venture property company will also encourage other investors and entrepreneurs in Wirral to realise their business goals and give them the confidence that once again, Wirral is a borough on the move.


Councillor Phil Davies introduced a report that reminded Members that on 27February 2017, the Cabinet had considered and approved an Outline Business Case (OBC) that set out a proposal to create a Property Company. Primarily the purpose of the company had been to enable the Council to use its assets to secure local economic growth, community and environmental benefits and to provide long term sustainable income streams for the Council. The Cabinet had instructed Officers to develop a Full Business Case (FBC) for a joint venture property company to take forward the delivery of growth and regeneration in Wirral.


Appended to the report was a Full Business Case to create a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) between the Council and a private sector investor/developer as a joint venture (JV). Whilst a range of company models existed, the business case concluded that the LLP model was best able to meet the Council’s strategic objectives and, in particular, offered a governance structure that would allow the Council to exert joint influence over the company with the private sector partner and benefit from more favourable taxation arrangements.


The Business Case showed a potential financial return based upon around 50 indicative sites, including three prospective acquisitions. Whilst a significant proportion of these sites could form part of a development programme, only at the end of the procurement phase would it be clear exactly what would be included within the JV development programme.  At present, due diligence on the title to the sites and other potential development constraints were being considered. It was important to note it would be only at the stage of preparing a JV Business Plan for the creation of the JV partnership that the more accurate financial returns would be known. Appended to the Business Case at Appendix 1 was potential Phase 1 Asset Assessment Summary Note.


Councillor Davies informed that the FBC would deliver some important regeneration projects.  There was a one billion gross developmental potential.  It would allow the Council to meet its pledges around economic development.  The Council would put its assets into the JV and a private sector investor would bring capital.  The Council was not selling any assets they would provide it with an ongoing income stream.  The Rate Support Grant disappeared after 2021 so this was very important and would help the Council to deliver public services going forward.  The growth company would aim to deliver meaningful economic growth across the Borough.  This was a Wirral wide approach and the model being used had been tried and tested elsewhere. 


Councillor Davies referred to the OJEC Process detailed in the report which would be used to secure a partner  He informed that the aim was to be in a position, by the end of the calendar year, where a partner had been identified. 


Councillor Davies also informed that the Cabinet would receive a further report prior to the final deal being agreed.


Councillor Janette Williams described the report as visionary and informed that she was excited about what was going to happen on Wirral.


Councillor Angela Davies agreed with Councillor Williamson.  She welcomed the proposals wholeheartedly and supported this innovated way forward and thanked Officers for their hard work on this initiative.


Councillor Phil Brightmore was pleased that the Council’s assets were being kept so that future generations could benefit from them.


RESOLVED: That Cabinet


(1)  approves the Full Business Case (FBC), noting the indicative list of sites within the FBC (including those that are likely to form phase 1) and recognising that the figures within the FBC  are likely to change and are predicated on three strategic acquisitions being made;


(2)  authorises the Director of Transformation to commence and conduct an OJEU works concession competitive dialogue process to identify a private sector partner with which to form a joint venture vehicle to develop sites and areas within Wirral to meet the Council’s strategic objectives approved by Cabinet on 27 February 2017 and set out in the FBC. The procurement would include the full range of services required to promote and deliver development, including development management, contracting, asset management services and potentially facilities management services. That the Director of Transformation be authorised to select a shortlist and the bidders to be invited to participate in competitive dialogue and then continue dialogue through to preferred bidder stage;


(3)  approves the proposed form of the joint-venture as a 50:50 long term (10 year plus potential 5 year extension) Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) with a board of two Council representatives and two from the private sector partner starting from the principle of equal sharing of risks and rewards;


(4)  approves the structure and principles of the joint-venture documentation as set out in the FBC, including the way in which sites will be brought forward for development, following the preparation of site development plans and valuation to ensure the Council receives best consideration;


(5)  agrees that, where appropriate, the Council will consider using compulsory purchase powers (providing the joint-venture LLP indemnifies the Council for costs in the usual way);


(6)  authorises the Strategic Commissioner for Growth to apply for planning permission and City Region funding in relation to any of the proposed sites within the programme as considered appropriate;


(7)  agrees that the Director of Transformation shall report back on the proposed outcome of the procurement process, if possible with the recommendation to appoint a preferred bidder, before the end of 2017, recognising that this will require significant resource commitment in order to be achieved; and


(8)  notes that further authority will be sought from the Cabinet to appoint the partner for the creation of the joint venture vehicle, the appointment of representatives to protect the Council's interests on the LLP, for the terms of transfer of sites to be included in phase 1, to approve the three year business plan for the joint-venture and to enter into legal documentation in due course.

Report author: Alan Evans

Publication date: 21/06/2017

Date of decision: 19/06/2017

Decided at meeting: 19/06/2017 - Cabinet

Effective from: 29/06/2017

Accompanying Documents: