NEW Ferry is set for a major boost almost five years after an explosion which devastated the town.

On March 25, 2017, Pascal Blasio deliberately blew up his furniture store.

The resulting explosion at Homes in Style on Bebington Road in the Wirral town injured 81 people and caused devastation to nearby homes and businesses.

But now, Wirral Council has said the pace of change in the town is set to pick up, with progress being made in a "wide-ranging programme".

One sign of this will be the demolition of the final block of damaged properties on the pedestrianised part of Bebington Road.

Having finally acquired all of these properties, Wirral Council now has contractors on site starting the work to bring down 48-54 Bebington Road and clear the site for redevelopment.

This block adjoins an already cleared site on Bebington Road and is opposite the cleared site of the 2017 explosion itself.

Put together, these sites make up nearly two-thirds of those earmarked for regeneration.

The council has also moved one step closer to spending £700,000 on buying the former Co-op building at the junction of Bebington Road and New Chester Road, with the final decision on the purchase to be made at its most important committee, policy and resources.

A preferred developer has also been appointed, allowing detailed plans for what will be done to boost the town to be drawn up.

Cllr Tony Jones, chair of Wirral Council’s economy and development committee, said: "We cannot underestimate the importance of this progress.

"The regeneration of New Ferry is – and has been since the gas explosion in March 2017 – a top priority for the council.

"However, it has been and remains, a complex and long-term process due to the fact that the majority of the land and buildings earmarked with the masterplan were in private ownership."

The Labour councillor added: "It has taken investment and a lot of hard work to get us to the point where a large proportion of these sites are now owned by the council and we have been able to recommend the appointment of a preferred developer with a great deal of confidence that together we will deliver the New Ferry masterplan."