A £7.5m project to stop Birkenhead running out of power is moving ahead.

Wirral Council has been developing plans since 2019 for a new substation to help support its plans to build thousands more homes in town. This comes after warnings from the electricity provider Scottish Power Energy Network (SPEN) that the network in and around Birkenhead “is operating at capacity and without the investment in a new primary substation the network will be unable to support future demand for electricity.”

The plan is for the new substation to be built on council owned land at the back of the Europa Pools Leisure Centre off Conway Street. On June 18, council officers agreed funding with the local authority’s joint venture firm, the Wirral Growth Company, to deliver the project via Ameon Utilities Limited.

The project will cost a total of £7.535m, up from an original budget of £3.113m. According to a report by Director of Law and Corporate Services Jill Travers, the project is “ready to be delivered and when operational, the primary substation will help to support investment in a range of new developments that when completed will help to create a regenerated town centre.”

In 2023, the local authority announced a £73.5m investment plan for Birkenhead and New Ferry detailing a number of projects which had received government funding and updates on what the council planned to do with them. This plan, which was approved by councillors, proposed moving funding from a grant awarded for a new Birkenhead Market to cover the increased costs of the project.

The plan said the substation was “essential to enable commercial and residential development of the town centre where costs have escalated owing to inflationary costs and a 4km route to secure a point of connection for a power supply.” Councillors approved an extra £4.5m in November 2023 for the project with this increase expected to be covered by borrowing.

According to the decision published in June, the design had taken longer than expected with a project start date in June 2024 and increases costs were due to a number of reasons including increased construction costs, higher cable costs, inflation, revised EU regulations, as well as planned resurfacing and changes to the rear car park at Europa Pools.