Two new office buildings which form a key part of the regeneration plans for Birkenhead have been officially handed over to the council.
In 2019 the council embarked upon a large-scale transformational regeneration programme across Wirral’s Left Bank, which stretches from Bromborough through Birkenhead and Wirral Waters, Seacombe and Liscard to New Brighton. The creation of a new office quarter in the heart of Birkenhead Town Centre is one of the flagship projects.
The keys to the Mallory and Irvine buildings in Alice Ker Square have now been presented to the Mayor of Wirral Councillor Jerry Williams.
After a 22-month construction timescale, which has run to time and budget the buildings were officially handed over from the Wirral Growth Company and its construction partners Morgan Sindall to the council.
The council will be moving its office-based employees into a number of floors of the Mallory building in Spring 2024, making it the main administrative location for the authority and becoming the ‘anchor tenant’ in the redeveloped office quarter of the town. The remaining floor space of Mallory, and the entirety of the neighbouring Irvine building will be leased to other tenants.
Leader of Wirral Council, Councillor Paul Stuart said:
“Our regeneration plans are incredibly ambitious and this one of the first demonstrations of what’s coming to Birkenhead and the Left Bank. We’ve committed to revitalising the town and breathing new life into its business and retail spaces. The council is showing a clear commitment not only to driving forward the regeneration projects but to joining them and becoming part of the change we want to see.”
The council will no longer be using the Cheshire Lines Building on Canning Street for office space. Plans are being developed to secure the future of the Wirral Archives which is currently based in the lower ground floor. Wirral Archives is accredited by the National Archives Service who are being kept fully informed of the process.
The next phase is for the buildings to be fitted out to the necessary specifications needed for both council operations and for prospective tenants.
Cllr Stuart said:
“Moving hundreds of council staff into the Mallory building is one of the ways we are laying the foundation for revitalising Birkenhead. When fully let these buildings will see thousands of people working in the heart of the town, bringing new footfall and passing trade to local shops. Having the council as an ‘anchor tenant’ in the building will also help give confidence to private firms and public sector partners to encourage relocations to this dedicated commercial business district.
“This is one step in the delivery of massive regeneration in Birkenhead and the Left Bank of Wirral. This will play a key role in supporting retailers and businesses in the town centre, and making Wirral an even better place to live, work, visit and bring up families.”
The new office buildings have been constructed to BREEAM standards which is the world’s first and foremost sustainability standard and rating system for the built environment. This brings numerous environmental benefits including a 15% reduction in energy costs, 11% reduction in operating costs and 13% reduction in emissions, directly supporting the council’s Environment and Climate Emergency Policy to become carbon neutral by 2030.
Alice Ker Square is the newly developed public space in the Birkenhead Commercial District close to Birkenhead’s central bus depot and a short walk from Conway Park train station. Following the completion of the two office buildings and the purchase of the Pyramids shopping centre earlier in the year, the council is starting to consult on the regeneration of the wider area through the St Werburgh’s masterplan.
Alice Stewart Ker (or Alice Jane Shannan Ker) was a Scottish physician, health educator, and suffragette who moved to Birkenhead. Her medical practice was based in the town where she was the only female doctor in the area. In 1893, Ker became involved in the Birkenhead and Wirral Women’s Suffrage Society, and after her husband’s death in 1907, her interest in women’s suffrage became an increasing priority for her.
The office buildings have been named after George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, famed mountaineers who participated in expeditions to Mount Everest. Irvine was born, and Mallory lived, in Birkenhead.
Wirral Council Mayor, and the borough’s Heritage Champion, Cllr Jerry Williams said:
“Recognising these important figures in our local history by linking them to the future of our town is a powerful way to cement our connections with our heritage. Alice Ker, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine were ground-breaking pioneers who pushed the boundaries of what was thought possible, paving the way for future generations. Their achievements are a testimony to what is possible, and I hope their stories will serve as an inspiration to the people of this borough.”