Birkenhead is well served by its transport network.Rail, road, ferry, bus – there’s a diversity of options that not many places can boast. But are these transport modes working together well enough to serve the best interests of the town?
Richard Cronin of Austin-Smith: Lord architects will be looking at how Birkenhead can make best use of its transport assets to facilitate the success of the proposed redevelopment and the town centre in general.
“Initially we need to take a holistic view; to look at how we have got where we are and any fundamental changes that are required to unlock Birkenhead’s potential. Birkenhead is fantastically well placed in terms of transport, but the car’s dominance has had a detrimental effect in terms of movement.
“For example, the flyovers were built as a response to the need to get people to the tunnel entrance, but that has created barriers at ground level. And while the movement to the tunnel has been speeded up, what that has also done is speed up access to the economy and leisure attractions of Liverpool, so that connectivity under the Mersey has been a drain.”
But the existence of the various transport connections presents Birkenhead with an excellent starting point.
“This is where we have an opportunity for Birkenhead because the infrastructure is already in place. What it needs someone to zoom out and see the bigger picture, then bring all the elements together. This is what Chester are doing with their Gateway scheme, but it has required them to take a long term view.
“If there was a better offer in Birkenhead then the opportunity to access the Wirral, Chester and North Wales markets is huge. At the moment it’s too easy to go anywhere by car, but the most successful places are those that have good transport infrastructure at their heart, and the more modes of transport the better. You have to make journeys seamless and natural for people.”