Agreement was reached this week on a scheme that will finally secure the future of one of Wallasey’s most cherished heritage buildings. Andrew Gibson House, a former home for the widows of retired seafarers has been empty for more than a decade, as owners, Nautilus Welfare Trust, have tried to find a long-term solution for a building that no longer provided fit-for-purpose accommodation for residents.

A previous redevelopment proposal stalled and last year Nautilus, Wirral Council and local developer, Prospect Capital, pledged to work together to find a long- term development solution that saved the building and provided Nautilus with more modern accommodation elsewhere on the site.

Following extensive negotiation and exploration of options, the three parties have agreed the principle of a scheme that will see the much-loved landmark converted into apartments, with enabling residential development and a new state-of-the-art accommodation block built for the charity close to Andrew Gibson House.

Nautilus senior policy advisor Mike Jess said: ‘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. As new research from the Maritime Charities Group demonstrates, the 30 new extra-care accommodation places will help to meet an increasingly acute need.’

Craig Blackwell, Managing Director of Prospect Capital 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.

The key to the solution was a decision by Wirral Council to sell a small piece of adjacent land to developers, Prospect Capital, that provided scope for a development that would be commercially deliverable, as well as fulfilling the needs of Nautilus and the aspirations of local residents and heritage campaigners.

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.’

Prospect Capital are working with Liverpool-based architects Space Plus and are hopeful that a full planning application for the site will now be submitted early in the new year, with work on the restoration of Andrew Gibson House itself starting in spring 2018.