Hoylake £4 million taxpayer funded Beacon project still shrouded in uncertainty
By Ed Barnes
19th Oct 2022 | Local News
There is still no deadline set for a nearly £4m taxpayer-funded cinema and restaurant project in Hoylake as it continues to face delays.
The Beacon Project scheme plans to transform the old Hoylake town hall into a cinema and arts space, cafes, a Moroccan fine dining restaurant, and small retail units. 40 apartments on four levels above ground floor artisan spaces were also approved by Wirral Council in 2018.
Despite the delays, the company behind the scheme, Hylgar Properties, insist they are "totally committed to its delivery" and said they "are still planning to open as soon as possible."
The project has continued to face delays with the developer previously saying the pandemic was to blame. In 2021, Hylgar Properties said that a majority of restoration and refurbishment work had been completed.
People in Hoylake recently expressed concern about the future of the project after a proposal was put in to change some conditions to the old planning approval in September.
Previously the conditions stipulated that the cinema and commercial aspects of the project, known as Phase 1, would need to be completed before the housing development, which is Phase 2. Wirral Council said this was "to ensure a comprehensive development" and to comply with planning rules.
Torus Housing, who manages the housing scheme, recently requested that Phase 2 is allowed to be completed before Phase 1.
A spokesperson said: "The adjacent development to our scheme at Hoylake is owned and being developed by another developer and not Torus.
"Therefore we have no control over what is happening on that site and the reason we have requested a change to the planning condition. This change means that when our scheme is completed all 40 apartments and retail units can be occupied and used fully when completed next summer."
The scheme received £3.64m through the Coastal Communities Fund in February 2018. The government funding went towards the cinema and the commercial side of the scheme with Phase 2 funded separately.
A Levelling Up department spokesperson said: "We continue to work with The Beacon Project in Hoylake to make sure they're delivering and making best use of taxpayers money."
David Burke, Hylgar director, said: "From the start, we've been in regular communication with the government and have recently had a long-awaited and very productive meeting to work together to work through the challenges. The government representatives we met fully understand the importance of the project locally and the need to complete and be open.
"Like everyone else we have been frustrated that progress has slowed and apologise for any concern that this is causing in the area. We have had to adapt to several political and social challenges, as well as a seismic change to both cinema and hospitality in recent years while steadfastly ensuring that the Beacon will have a long-lasting and positive impact. In continuing uncertain times that means we must manage the risks carefully.
"While there are still challenges ahead, we remain absolutely passionate about this building, to the community, to the Beacon project itself and are confident that the cinema model is the right one and will thrive.
"We are still planning to open as soon as possible, with our cinema and food and beverage partner businesses continuing to be totally committed to its delivery."
Hylgar Properties did not respond to further questions about a timeline for the works being completed.