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Kirkby town centre regeneration, Knowsley

Kirkby Town Centre, located within Knowsley, required large scale public sector intervention to drive and deliver regeneration for the area. This included a number of service co-locations, demolitions and exploring options for unlocking underutilised brownfield land to improve the housing, leisure and retail offer in Kirkby.

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  • Partnership: Liverpool City Region Partnership
  • Region: North West
  • Theme: Mixed redevelopment

The challenge

Intervention was required within Kirkby Town Centre, located within Knowsley, to progress a number of public and stalled privately owned sites.  This project provided the catalyst for the progression of development opportunities on a former municipal “gateway” site and the development of the former library and Webster House sites for leisure purposes (Webster House being a former job centre which was in private ownership).  Unlocking this land will also support a large residential opportunity on nearby land to the immediate south of the Town Centre.

Significant economic outputs associated with redevelopment will also directly benefit the town centre to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic by driving footfall and providing demand-led long-term sustainable regeneration.

The story

The One Public Estate (OPE) programme awarded the Kirkby Town Centre Regeneration Programme £110,000 of funding at OPE phase 4.

The following activity was funded to help accelerate the regeneration of the town centre:

  • master planning and feasibility
  • demolition of a former library site (the library having relocated nearby).

The transformation of Kirkby Town Centre in Knowsley recognises that:

  • OPE funding has been essential in helping to deliver a local strategic aim and has helped to overcome the challenge of underutilised and vacant buildings
  • the value that the OPE programme has contributed includes raising the prominence of Kirkby Town Centre through positive development and place-making, helping retain existing residents, and attract new residents, businesses, visitors, and further investment
  • there is a need for ongoing regeneration to support recovery due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and current economic shock
  • the growth of the town centre is needed in order to meet the needs, expectations and aspirations of local residents and the business community.

The outcomes

The transformation of Kirkby Town Centre is underway as part of a multi-million pound regeneration programme being driven by Knowsley Council. Further interventions and activities have followed on from the award of OPE funding, which are:

  • the demolition of Webster House, in order to prepare the site for a new leisure development
  • the demolition of Kirkby Library (the Library itself having relocated to the £5m Kirkby Centre development within Kirkby Town Centre in 2018.
  • the demolition of the former Kirkby Civic Building
  • a brand new Civic Square next to the Council’s £5m Kirkby Centre
  • new seating and lighting
  • new greening including trees, shrubbery and planting beds across St Chads Parade and Newtown Gardens
  • public art
  • a new 45,000 feet2 Morrison’s superstore has opened within Kirkby Town Centre with a petrol station and surface car parking as part of the wider area regeneration. A further extension of 94,000 feet2 retail-led development includes a 20,000 feet2 Home Bargains store, and Taco Bell and KFC drive-through restaurants. PureGym are also set to open on the retail development.

Knowsley Council purchased Kirkby Town Centre and progressed the stalled retail extension at a cost of £43.8m. The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has supported the Council’s transformation plans for Kirkby by allocating a further £15m following on from the OPE funding. Of this £15m, the LCRCA contributed £10m to the purchase of the Town Centre, whilst the remaining £5m is being used to support the leisure development and Kirkby gateway schemes.

With regard to the wider ongoing development of Kirkby Town Centre, further opportunities to regenerate the area include:

  • A Multi-screen cinema and leisure development:
    • Morgan Sindall has been appointed as the preferred contractor regarding the development of the new multi-screen cinema at Cherryfield Drive in Kirkby.  Planning permission has been granted to develop a multi-screen cinema, along with several food and drink outlets.  Knowsley Council purchased the site from St Modwen (as part of the £43.8m deal) to progress stalled regeneration, helping invigorate Kirkby Town Centre’s redevelopment, focussing on mixed development opportunities beyond retail and typical town centre uses.
    • Morgan Sindall is in a pre-construction period in order to progress the development through detailed design, market and supplier engagement with a view to being appointed as the main contractor, subject to Council approval based on outcomes of the pre-construction work.  Further ground investigations have been undertaken which will further inform design and market testing.
  • Land South of Cherryfield Drive Barratt and David Wilson Homes are in an exclusivity period with the Council in order to undertake investigations and pre-planning design and consultation to inform the site which has the potential to deliver up to 700 new homes to suit all budgets, styles and sizes, including affordable homes and extra care facilities.
  • Kirkby Gateway: Capital funding has been agreed with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to support works to convert a multi-storey car park into a sustainable transport hub.  This will directly support job creation at the Kirkby Gateway site, increase potential for private sector investment to the town centre, and support long term parking capacity for the town centre.

Overall the hard outputs that are set to be delivered over the course of the project lifetime are:

  • £9,250,000 of capital receipts to be reinvested in Council services
  • £2,400,00 of reduced running costs (delivered £1,200,000 to date) to be reinvested in Council services
  • 23.50 hectares of land released for housing development
  • the creation of 700 jobs directly from this scheme (412 jobs created to date).

Softer benefits include:

  • the co-location of services and thereby an easier customer journey
  • inward investment
  • the creation of local jobs and apprenticeships
  • town centre regeneration and “local levelling up”, improving facilities for residents and visitors to the town
  • stronger collaboration between public services.

Councillor Tony Brennan, Knowsley Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “We have ambitious plans for all of our town centres. Kirkby had been promised redevelopment by the private sector for over 20 years but those promises had not been delivered – we knew that we needed to step in to take ownership and drive the regeneration of the area. We have invested £43.8m into buying Kirkby Town Centre, supported by a £10m contribution from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. It was a risk to take and one which we didn’t enter into lightly, but it was a risk that has now paid off with improved facilities in the area with much more still to be delivered. The delivery of the retail development is just the start for Kirkby and we are continuing to progress our ambitious plans for the town centre for everyone who lives, works, visits or invests in the Borough.”


Webster House before it was demolished, three storeys high and standing by a junction
Webster House before demolition

A large empty plot of land surrounded by fences
Webster House after demolition

Aerial view of a large detached Morrisons superstore with a car park in front
Aerial view of new Morrisons superstore