Destination Kirkby Inquiry - Day Seven
Day seven of the inquiry began with Patrick Clarkson, for Tesco, introducing Graham Tulley, a town planner.
He presented his report on the regeneration effects of the Kirkby proposals, revealing Knowsley was the eighth most deprived borough in England and the fourth most deprived outside of London.
He said this severe deprivation was focused in the north of the borough, particularly in Kirkby.
He said local people suffered this deprivation through low incomes, poor health, low educational attainment and high crime levels.
He said this "grim picture" was reflected in local planning policies, which have strived to facilitate regeneration. He said various agencies, particularly Knowsley Council, had been working to regenerate the area for many years and had started to effect some change but the cycle of decline remained.
He said the existing town centre's offer and image reflected this deprivation, with no significant retail private investment since the 1970s.
He went on to say that it had a poor retail offer, image and environment, and that if this was left unchecked, it would become less able to cater for the customers it had - let alone attract more.
He said a "sea change" was needed in the town's fortunes and he thought the application proposals offered a "once in a lifetime opportunity".
He said he felt the new Everton stadium would change perceptions about the town and its image almost "overnight". He said that this, along with the Tesco store, would "energise" the local economy.
He said that one of the key lessons of regeneration was that there was no "one size fits all". He said proposals had to meet local needs and had to be deliverable.
He explained that recent Government reports recognised that retail can have a major regenerative effect on economies. He added that the stadium and the enhanced civic realm would show investors that Kirkby was "changing fast".
He said the number of jobs predicted to be created by the development was around 2,763 in total, saying this would make a "significant contribution" to the job targets for Kirkby. He added Knowsley and Merseyside as a whole would also benefit from these new job opportunities.