L-R: Mick Howarth (Nautilus), Cllr Janette Williamson, Mike Jess (Nautilus), Rob Blackwell (Prospect Capital), Phil Lee (Space Plus) and Craig Blackwell (Prospect Capital)
L-R: Mick Howarth (Nautilus), Cllr Janette Williamson, Mike Jess (Nautilus), Rob Blackwell (Prospect Capital), Phil Lee (Space Plus) and Craig Blackwell (Prospect Capital)

Three-way deal preserves future of historic Wallasey building

An agreement was reached this week to secure the future of a historic building in Wallasey.

Andrew Gibson House, a former home for the widows of retired seafarers, will be transformed into apartments in a collaboration between site owner Nautilus Welfare Trust, Wirral Council and Upton developer Prospect Capital.

The property has lain empty for over 10 years as Nautilus tried to secure a long-term solution for the building, which no longer provided fit-for-purpose accommodation for its residents.

Redevelopment was proposed last year, but the project stalled and the three parties pledged to deliver a long-term development that would save Andrew Gibson House while giving Nautilus more modern accommodation elsewhere on the site.

Nautilus, Prospect and the council have now agreed on a residential scheme that will preserve the future of the landmark property and provide a new accommodation block nearby for the charity.

The solution was reached when Wirral Council agreed to sell a small plot of land next to Andrew Gibson House to Prospect Capital. The decision provided scope for a commercially deliverable scheme that would also fulfill the needs of Nautilus, locals and heritage campaigners.

Prospect is working with Liverpool architects Space Plus and hopes to submit a full planning application early in the new year.

Prospect Capital’s managing director, Craig Blackwell, said: ’This is a great piece of local heritage and I am delighted that by working together ourselves, Nautilus and Wirral Council have come up with a solution that preserves the building, and gives Nautilus the quality future accommodation they need.

“It’s an outstanding location, and a development that combines sensitive restoration with high quality modern design, will be a great enhancement of the Wirral Waterfront.”

Mike Jess, senior policy advisor at Nautilus, commented: “We are absolutely delighted that we have reached this agreement, which is a win-win for everyone.

“We have been seeking to do something with the Gibson House site for many years, and this three-way partnership makes it possible for the proceeds to go back to the charity to enable the development of new facilities for retired seafarers.”

He added: “As new research from the Maritime Charities Group demonstrates, the 30 new extra-care accommodation places will help to meet an increasingly acute need.”

Cllr Janette Williamson said: “As a local Cllr I am really pleased that this historic building has been saved. It’s something that residents have been campaigning for and I know that Nautilus have been working hard to find a solution and a development plan that is commercially viable and gives them the modern accommodation they need.

“Patience and hard work have paid off, and it’s a great tribute to all those involved.”

Work on the restoration of Andrew Gibson House will get underway in Spring 2018, subject to planning consent.

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