Decision ‘imminent’ on major Wirral homes project

Anwyl Homes offers possible start date for multi-million pound housing project on part ofwhat is currently Unilever’s Wirral R&D complex, with a planning decision ‘imminent’. Tony McDonough reports

Unilever R&D complex in Bebington in Wirral. Picture by Tony McDonough


Work may finally get under way in autumn this year on a multi-million pound housing project in Wirral on part of what is currently consumer giant Unilever’s R&D complex.

Developer Anwyl Homes Cheshire and North Wales agreed, subject to planning consent, to acquire the eight-acre site in Bebington from Unilever, in late 2022. It intends to build 125 new homes, ranging from one to four-bedroom.

A planning application was submitted to Wirral Council in 2022. In June 2023 Anwyl told LBN it hoped to start work on site in the autumn of that year.

As of the last few days the project is still in Wirral Council’s planning pipeline and no work has taken place. However, the decision is ‘delegated’ which means it won’t have to go before councillors on the authority’s planning committee.

Wirral Council doesn’t comment on ongoing applications but LBN understands the final details are being ironed out and a decision on the development is “imminent”. Anwyl says it is hopeful work can begin on site in the autumn of this year.

Speaking last year, Anwyl managing director Phil Dolan, said: “Our plans for the site include green space and a play area, alongside a diverse range of high-quality housing designs. All homes will have private gardens and off-road parking.

“The site boasts a sustainable location, close to the A41 and major transport links, with strong local amenities. Our proposed development will contribute much needed market and affordable homes to meet local housing needs.

“We’re also proposing a series of footpaths to link the development to the surrounding community including one through existing woodland to the south west.”

Unilever operates a large personal care manufacturing complex in Port Sunlight. The R&D site is in Bebington, separated from the factory by a road and a railway. It houses hundreds of scientists and support staff.

Part of the R&D site, a plot adjacent to Quarry Road East and part of St Andrew’s Road, was put up for sale by Unilever in 2020.

Once Anwyl gets the go-ahead Unilever staff will vacate buildings on that part of the site. Among the buildings to be demolished is the 230,000 sq ft office and lab facility used for developing products and prototypes.

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However, other buildings in the complex, including the Manufacturing Technology Centre and the recently built Advanced Manufacturing Centre, are not affected by the sale.

Unilever will use proceeds from the sale, which were undisclosed, to modernise its laboratory facilities. Some staff may relocate to the Materials Innovation Factory at the University of Liverpool.

To view the plans in more detail log onto Wirral Council’s planning portal and search for reference number APP/22/01759.

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