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Ingleborough field's protective covenant set to be removed
A SPECIAL restriction protecting a Wirral memorial field from development looks set to be lifted to make way for a new housing estate.
The covenant, in place at Ingleborough Road playing field, would be removed so that Tranmere Rovers can sell the site in a multi-million pound deal.
At its meeting next Thursday, the borough’s ruling cabinet is to instruct corporate resources chief Cllr Adrian Jones to approve the changes to the former Birkenhead Institute site once he is satisfied with final negotiated terms.
Planning consent for the 90-plus homes was given last October but progression toward building the estate is dependent on the covenant being deleted.
Under the current restrictions, imposed in 1995 when the football club took over the land from Wirral Council, the site cannot be used for anything other than a playing field or training ground.
It also stipulates the commemorative plaque honouring Birkenhead Institute’s old boys who lost their lives in the First World War must not be removed or damaged.
However, councillors are set to lift the restrictions to pave the way for the controversial housing scheme which goes hand-in-hand with a revamp of Woodchurch Leisure Centre.
Prior to its planning approval last October, the project had attracted opposition from many who who believed the site’s historical meaning should be retained.
But Tranmere Rovers argued the sale was vital to secure the club’s future.
The club would help revitalise Woodchurch Leisure Centre, which would also become their new training ground.
Among planned improvements to the centre, which have been “scaled down” due to the loss of a commercial partner, are an all-weather synthetic pitch, community junior and senior pitches and refurbishments to the main building.
According to documents to go before cabinet, the sale of Ingleborough Road is expected to bring in around £5m - £1m of which will be paid to Wirral Council to release the covenant.
After tax, the club will then use the remaining £3.6m to pay off bank debts, while the local authority will use its payment to invest in Woodchurch Leisure Centre.
As part of the arrangement, Tranmere Rovers will “top-up” funds needed for the scheme at Woodchurch.
Cabinet documents suggest that by approving removal of the covenant, the council will ensure for the community activities offered by the club and help secure jobs by putting Rovers on a stronger financial footing.
* Earlier this week the council voted to end its £135,000 per year sponsorship deal with Tranmere Rovers under wide-ranging measures to reduce spending.