Hundreds of new jobs are in the pipeline with an expected start early in the New Year for building the £200m International Trade Centre in Wirral Docklands.

Developer Peel is planning to build the prestigious complex at West Float, North Birkenhead as part of the multi-billion Wirral Waters scheme.

It would be the first ITC in western Europe with the prospect of creating more than 3,000 jobs.

Initial building of the complex will provide employment for hundreds of people in the construction industry.

Wirral Council leader Phil Davies said: “We are very close to the start of actual building.

"The site has been cleared and ready for construction and hopefully early next year the structures will start to go up.”

Councillor Davies, who last month travelled to China for talks with companies likely to be trading from the new centre, said there was “ a huge amount on interest” in the venture in the Far East.

He said: “There is a long list of companies who want to be involved – this will have to be reduced to the numbers available for phase one.

“The centre will be a fantastic boost for the local economy. We are talking about a substantial number of jobs.

“Local businesses will benefit from a huge injection of businesses and people working in the dockland area.”

“The prospects are wonderful and even though the economy is still fragile it augurs really well for the future.”

The scheme is being funded by European grant and Peel are at present in the process of completing legal arrangements.

Peel development director Lindsay Ashworth, who played a key role in helping Wirral forge “sister city” relationships with Taicang in China, as part of the Wirral Waters development, said the ITC was the start of getting Chinese business into the North West.

Occupation of the trade centre, it is anticipated, will be initially led by Chinese businesses.

It will provide a major boost to the local economy by allowing overseas companies – particularly from China, South Korea and India – a gateway into UK and European markets.

Planning permission for the project has already been granted.