Wirral cabinet approves negotiations over scrapping Ingleborough memorial field covenant (From Wirral Globe)
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Wirral cabinet approves negotiations over scrapping Ingleborough memorial field covenant
NEGOTIATIONS are to begin which could see the lifting of a covenant protecting Ingleborough Road memorial field from development.
Wirral Council's ruling cabinet tonight agreed in principal to the controversial move which could pave the way for Tranmere Rovers FC to build a new housing estate on the land at Birkenhead.
The cabinet instructed its corporate resources chief Cllr Adrian Jones to approve the changes to the former Birkenhead Institute site when he is satisfied with the 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 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.
The covenant also stipulates a commemorative plaque honouring Birkenhead Institute’s old boys who lost their lives in the First World War must not be removed or damaged.
Councillors tonight stressed their belief in the importance of ensuring the plaque is preserved within the new development, should it go ahead.
Addressing cabinet, Cllr Adrian Jones said: "We will, obviously, do all we can to protect the sports facilities for the public and the war memorial."
Prior to 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.
Birkenhead Institute Old Boys' representative Alun Hughes, speaking after tonight's meeting, said: "At last our case to have the plaque retained at Ingleborough Road has been recognised."
As part of the agreement with the council, the club would help revitalise Woodchurch Leisure Centre, which would 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.
Council leader Phil Davies and councilors Harry Smith and Tony Smith declared an interest in the debate as they had attended functions at the club.
Also declaring an interest was Cllr George Davies, who was chairman of Tranmere Rovers school for four years. Cllr Ann McLachlan chaired the debate in Cllr Phil Davies absence.
Dean Johnson, who has campaigned to save Ingleborough fields from development said: "We can claim a little victory, but the battle goes on."