Will Wirral Council spend £8.4 million on buying the Europa Buildings in Birkenhead?
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Cabinet (Wirral Council) 27th November 2017 4 – Strategic Asset Acquisitions – Europa Building
On the 27th November 2017, Wirral Council’s Cabinet which you can view above decided to buy the Europa Building in Birkenhead Town Centre. The large building is surrounded by Hemingford Street, Europa Square, Claughton Road and Conway Street but its address is down as Claughton Road.
The building has four tenants, Wilko Retail Limited, Poundstretcher Limited, Courtesy Shoes Ltd trading as Wynsors and Mecca Bingo Ltd. Wetherspoons who had occupied the fifth unit had moved out by the time of the Cabinet meeting.
Cabinet decisions can’t be implemented at Wirral Council until the Cabinet minutes have both been published and any call-in period expired, which meant the earliest date it could be implemented was the 12th December 2017.
A provisional purchase price was agreed by the Cabinet and negotiations were requested to be carried out by their property consultant Lambert Smith Hampton.
The land and buildings were last bought by K/S Liverpool (which is a Danish company) for £10 million in 2003.
Quite why now, over three months later (as I checked with Land Registry on the 13th March 2018) negotiations haven’t resulted in the sale of the Europa Building and land to Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council is a bit of a mystery to me.
Wirral Council however did decide to borrow the millions of pounds it would cost to purchase it. However once purchased, it may be one of the assets transferred to the newly formed Wirral Growth Company Ltd (which is a joint venture between Wirral Council and Muse Developments).
There are however two references to Wirral Council in the title register for MS345603 (the Europa Building), in relation to a Deed dated 7th September 1995 between Wirral Council and Manweb plc (which contains restrictive covenants) and something from the 2nd October 1996 involving Wirral Council and Hinton Properties (Tamworth) Limited.
Hinton Properties (Tamworth) Limited was later renamed to Maple Vale Properties (Henley) Limited and then was dissolved on the 2nd December 2016. So any interest Hinton Properties (Tamworth) Limited had would now be classed as “bona vacantia” and be owned by the Crown or the Duchy of Lancaster or to the Duke of Cornwall.
However back to the point about the planned purchase of the Europa Building. At the public meeting of Wirral Council councillors to decide on the 2018-19 Budget last week, Conservative Councillor Chris Blakeley mentioned in his speech a figure of £8.4 million for the Europa Building.
At the moment, there is concern amongst the Birkenhead Market stallholders, that if the Europa Building is purchased for £8.4 million by Wirral Council that it is possible that Birkenhead Market could be moved there.
Wirral Council had previously consulted on moving Birkenhead Market to the car park that Wirral Council owns by Conway Park Train Station (but that plan didn’t go anywhere).
The Europa Buildings are located in Birkenhead and Tranmere ward, which is being contested between the Labour Party and the Green Party in the May 2018 local elections of a councillor.
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