Developers target Bidston Hill

Bidston Hill is under threat.

Earlier this year, the site of the former Joseph Proudman Building was put to market as a “development opportunity”.

Site of Joseph Proudman Building advertised as a development opportunity
Site of Joseph Proudman Building advertised as a development opportunity

Last week, the Natural Environment Research Council (who own the leasehold) announced that Magenta Living is their preferred bidder. Magenta Living have started negotiations with Wirral Council (who own the freehold) about possible developments on the site.

We will post updates as more information comes to light.

More about the land

The land was once the kitchen gardens of Bidston Lighthouse. Its official postal address is 4 Lighthouse Cottages, CH43 7RA. An oceanographic research facility, latterly called the Joseph Proudman Building, stood on the site from the 1970s until its demolition in 2013.

Since the Joseph Proudman Building was demolished, the land has been used from time to time by picknickers, dog-walkers and mountain bike enthusiasts, as an exercise ground by local schools and fitness fanatics, not to mention fly-tippers. Hedgehogs, bats, foxes, owls, kestrels, woodpeckers and other wildlife have been seen on the site.

The Proudman land is enclosed on two sides by a sandstone wall. The wall is a grade-II listed building in its own right, and the land is within its curtilage. The same wall encloses Bidston Lighthouse and Bidston Observatory, which are also grade-II listed. All three buildings were designed by George Fosbery Lyster F.R.S., Engineer-in-Chief to the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board. Every stone on the site was locally quarried, and every stone is exactly as Lyster left it nearly a century-and-a-half ago. There is no conceivable development that would not diminish the group value of the site.

The land was originally part of the title of Bidston Lighthouse when the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board sold the Lighthouse to the Birkenhead Corporation in 1935. At the time,  the Corporation said: “By this purchase the land would be available for all future generations for recreational purposes”. This intention was reflected both in the price – a bargain £1000 – and in a restrictive covenant prohibiting new buildings. This covenant still attaches to the freehold title of the land.

The single-track access road, Wilding Way, is owned by Wirral Council, but it is not adopted. It is not a public highway. It doubles as a public footpath for most of its length. It is crossed by ramblers, dog-walkers, horse-riders and wildlife.

The site is surrounded on all sides by Bidston Hill, 100 acres of heathland and woodland that contain mysterious rock carvings and historic buildings, and provide a haven for wildlife amidst the urban sprawl.

10 Replies to “Developers target Bidston Hill”

  1. Keep it wild. So many locals, including the resident wildlife need the area to be kept as it is. Do not use it for housing. There are loads of ‘brown’ sites nearer residential areas that can be used housing. Council do your research.

  2. What a disgrace this beauiful place will be lost forever surley there is more land just sitting waiting for somone to build on it elswhere
    As a child i played and picnicked at bidston hill many many times and have taken my own children there in tha past love this place HANDS OFF

  3. The covenant on that parcel of land says everything. The University when the Proudman was constructed in 1970 must have broken this covenant and maybe when it became redundant that’s why it was demolished and cleared so quickly in 2013. This whole area is of special interest and this must be more important than commercial gain by our local authority. If they are that short of money I think they should look at all the brown land they are sitting on and end this concept of the unacceptable and unwanted development of this cherished area. If Magenta living are wanting to build flats (god knows why flats in the first place) there’s plenty of land available or available for clearing before even contemplating the ruination of Bidston Hill and its environs. HANDS OFF!!

  4. Looking at maps of area, this land is for public recreation, the land behind both lighthouse and observatory belonged to the buildings. It was bass enough they got to build on the land for the proudman building, probably could only put it there if it was a temporary build( prefab). Now that the building is gone, it should never be built on again. According to windmill, the area of 90 acres was bought from vyner by Birkenhead corporation, £14,500 and £15,500 by public donation, given to public for use for recreation, not housing. Its bad enough they where granted planning permission to build along eleanor road, housing estates everywhere. Wbc pull houses down and don’t build affordable houses , which are needed. Magenta should concentrate on crossways and river streets, after all, whole communities where dislodged and some of the area turned into car parks. It seems there is no care for people or heritage in regards to the powers that be. The hill and surrounding areas have significance because at the time they where given to the people, industry and hard work and two storey terraced houses where how people lived and needed the space for wellbeing. I think these people in charge should maybe take a course on local history and heritage and care less for money. After all the hard work our ancestors did to create the place we live today, the least we can do is keep it for future generations. I bet it won’t be affordable for anyone in the area to live in these flats they want to build. Yet again, it will all be about profit, about the view from the hill once the docks has been destroyed and peels plan put in place. Sorry but I will be tying myself to trees, maybe strip naked in order to gain publicity, only joking. But as you know, I’m very passionate about the area!!!!

  5. My family used to take me here as a child and I now take my daughter it would be an awful shame to lose this wild green space it’s been there for years surly they could build elsewhere where doesn’t matter to much to families , families need this outdoor space to enjoy life and living as do the wildlife !!!!

  6. There’s come street primary school sitting there unused wasting away need to turn. That into something better flats hostel for homeless we have too many on the streets today plus the other building nearby aswell there’s empty buildings everywhere that need to be used but instead you just want to spoil a green space how disgusting wbc do your research properly look at the reality of things that need tackling befire thinking about profitable gain!!!

  7. This land was bequeathed to the town to be used for recreation and should not be built on there is lots of land available for building what will they want next Birkenhead park.

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