More than 44 months after a criminal gas explosion turned New Ferry upside down, the town’s fortunes are taking a turn for the better.

In March 2017, Pascal Blasio blew up his Bebington Road furniture store Homes In Style, injuring 81 people and causing trauma and distress for many more.

But now Wirral Council is moving at pace with major regeneration plans for New Ferry and a community land trust is bringing a grand old building back into use.

The council’s plans involve the building of 79 homes and more than 1,000 square metres of retail space, across three sites in the town including that of the explosion itself.

Meanwhile, a building at 78-80 New Chester Road is being overhauled by New Ferry Community Land Trust (NFCLT).

Wirral Council bought the building with money from the £500,000 town centre fund given to it by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

But NFCLT will manage the building’s development.

Marion Grundy, the community land trust’s co-ordinator, said the job of the trust is to bring abandoned properties back into use for the benefit of the community.

Rents must be affordable and any profit made must go back into the trust to improve the town even more, she added, saying profit will never be made for profit’s sake.

Ms Grundy’s first task is to bring the New Chester Road building back to life.

The trust hopes to do this by building four flats to be rented out at affordable rates on the first and second floor, with the ground floor to form two commercial spaces.

One small space will be used as an office for the trust, while the use of the larger space is still an open discussion.

When asked what the space may become, Ms Grundy said: “We haven’t envisaged anything, we want to make it as versatile as possible and we encourage as many people as possible to come forward.”

The space will be open to bidders who can get in touch with the trust, but Ms Grundy was keen to avoid prejudging which sort of businesses may come forward.

On the flats, Ms Grundy said she hopes that all four will be ready to rent out by the end of next summer, but that depends on building work being completed on time.

Ms Grundy and her team at the community land trust have a clear vision for a much better New Ferry in the coming years.

After so much heartache following the blast, the whole town will hope that alongside the council’s regeneration plans, the trust can ensure that something good comes out of an incredibly difficult few years for New Ferry.