GHA’s plans for the first residential development on Birkenhead’s former East Float dock have been given the green light by the Cabinet of Wirral Council, paving the way for the creation of a new neighbourhood along Northbank.
The nineteenth-century docks developed in to an important flour milling centre however the site has laid derelict since the closure of the final mills in the 1990s. The brownfield site adjacent to the Great Float Docks will be transformed by Peel Land and Property in to six buildings offering a total of 500 one and two-bedroom apartments, dock edge walkways, pocket parks, gardens and terraces for residents as well as a sustainable urban drainage systems, pedestrian walkways and cycleway connections which will connect with the wider Wirral Waters masterplan.
Key aims for the project are to create a distinctive place, achieve a very high standard of design quality and sustainability and provide a benchmark for future residential development. Wirral Waters One will be the frontrunner for a number of other residential-led schemes along Northbank, including the development of 347 modular homes by Peel and Urban Splash, and other projects such as a proposed £20m Maritime Knowledge Hub, a proposed £3.5m amenity and arts hub, known as Egerton Village, and a new £6m offices on Tower Road.
The design reflects a contemporary interpretation of the contextual warehouses once present on Birkenhead Docks. The tower and mansion buildings at either end of the site raise up to mark the key junction at Duke Street and providing a ‘book end’ to the development. The warehouse buildings in-between reflect the large scale of the nearby Grain Warehouses. These will feature a strong saw-tooth roofscape that makes reference to the neighbouring wharf architecture to create character and provide the project with a strong waterside silhouette – giving identity within the wider masterplan vision. The orientation and linear footprint of each building ensures that every home has a view of the water and enjoys ample daylight.
A simple, yet robust approach towards detailing has been employed using a limited palette of materials. Elevations will be articulated by the use of modern construction technologies, utilising a range of metal cladding textures to provide further differentiation within the development.
Inspiration has been drawn on the materiality of the brightly coloured metalwork on ships, graphics and metal-clad warehouses present throughout the area and Wirral, to further reference the historical context of the scheme.
Colour is a key aspect of the site aesthetic that was comprehensively tested to ensure the appropriate tonal character is achieved as part of the Wirral Waters masterplan. By using bold colours and metal cladding for the collection of buildings, this will create extraordinary moments when the light reflects on the facade and the facade reflects into the water for that memorable ‘picture postcard’ moment.
Known as Wirral Waters One, the £90m scheme will include 100 affordable homes, facilitated by Legacy; a company set up to help local authorities deliver affordable and revenue generating housing. Through the Legacy deal, a further £100,000 will be granted to the Legacy Sports and Education Foundation, Legacy’s charitable arm, which will go towards supporting local sporting, youth and education programmes in the Wirral.
Glenn Howells, Director at Glenn Howells Architects, said: “It is important that we create a living, thriving residential project with a real sense of place. We want to create a new mixed-use community that will set the standard for developing successful new waterside homes at Wirral Waters, focused around a sense of community and individual warehouse living.”
Richard Mawdsley, director of development at Peel Land and Property, said: “The first residential quarter at Wirral Waters is becoming a reality. Wirral Waters One will incorporate state of the art residential design and innovation which will lead the way in making Wirral Waters an incredible place to live.”