REGENERATION in Wirral could be held back by mixed messages being sent out to potential investors, a leading councillor claimed last night.
Wirral cabinet member Pat Hackett said he feared for future schemes after recent rejections of potentially prestigious developments.
Cllr Hackett, the borough's cabinet member for regeneration, said the recent refusal of a planning application for a development on New Brighton seafront, as well as deferring a decision on a proposal to enlarge the shopping centre in Liscard,
could be off-putting for those looking to invest in the borough.
Cllr Hackett said: "My role is to ensure that development is supported across the Wirral, and this authority has been very creative and innovative in bringing investment here.
"We have had the Spaceport, the West Kirby and Hoylake Masterplan, the plans for Woodside, and Wirral International Business Park has been a huge success, but recent decisions could be sending out the wrong signals."
Cllr Hackett had spoken in favour of plans to demolish two hotels, one derelict, on New Brighton seafront and replace them with a six storey apartment and retail block. But the scheme was thrown out at the second attempt to have it approved.
The owners of the once luxurious Grand Hotel on New Brighton promenade, now an eyesore, along with the Queens Royal Hotel next door, had put forward an ambitious proposal to redevelop both sites.
They wanted to demolish both buildings and replace them with an eight-storey structure comprising 48 apartments, a shopping area, together with underground parking. The application was changed to a six-storey block of 34 apartments, with retail and shopping units on the ground and first floors and parking, but planners still turned it down.
The site of the hotels is directly opposite the location of the planned £70m Neptune scheme which the council hopes will breathe new life into the resort.
The Neptune proposals, which are currently being considered by the authority, would see the marine lake moved and a supermarket built on the seafront. Apartment blocks, a cinema and other leisure facilities are planned.
Cllr Hackett said: "It's disappointing without a doubt at a time when we are trying to bring in investors, that we can't see the wider picture.
He said: "Mixed messages are being sent out. The planning committee is all-party and there is no party whip, so there is no political element to this.
"My fear is that we will turn away investors and that is something that as we approach the Capital of Culture, with all the funding that is becoming available, we can't afford to allow.
"It's not just now, it's what can happen in the future."