£12m has been handed to a contractor to deliver a major town centre project just weeks before a deadline.

Wirral Council has approved two contracts with John Grahams Limited which will see £11.89m poured into two projects in Birkenhead town centre to improve it and introduce new walking routes and cycle lanes. The projects are a key part of the local authority’s regeneration plans for the town.

The funding will see major changes to the high street on Grange Road, new cycle lanes and walking routes on Conway Street and Europa Boulevard, and part of Grange Road West temporarily reduced to one lane “to encourage more people to visit and spend time there, as well as improved links to Grange Road itself.”

The contracts were awarded just in time as £3.85m of the funding towards the project on Europa Boulevard would have needed to be spent by March 31. At a regeneration committee meeting in January, Wirral Council said the projects needed to move forward quickly in order to be delivered in time.

In order to do this, councillors agreed to delegate responsibility for awarding the £12m contracts to the local authority’s regeneration director David Hughes. The council will also look to appoint a contractor to help deliver separate changes to the Birkenhead waterfront, Argyle Street and Hamilton Square.

At a regeneration committee meeting on January 22, committee chair Cllr Tony Jones said: “This is now all about delivery and if we get cracking we are actually going to see a complete and utter change to some of the roads that we are so familiar with, some of the traffic jams that we are all so familiar with.”

According to a report confirming the contracts had been awarded on March 7, the projects will help tackle climate change by encouraging active travel, are “critical to delivery of the regeneration programme,” and would have led to “reputational issues” if the schemes hadn’t gone ahead. The report said both projects are now “ready to be delivered on site.”

Funding for the projects come from a variety of different sources including Future High Streets funding awarded by the government to Wirral Council as well as active travel funding specifically to create new cycle and walking routes. £1.17m is also being funded by the Wirral Growth Company.

However the report said an additional £2.8m needs to be allocated for the project to help cover any overheads including contingencies as the tender return prices meant “the budget for the projects is not sufficient to award the contract and deliver the schemes.” To allow the schemes to go ahead, Future High Streets funding was reconfigured.

The council said it will now carry out a further review of the council’s regeneration programme with an aim “to still deliver all of the schemes.”