The Wilfred Owen Association has submitted a response to Wirral Borough Council concerning Tranmere Rovers’ application for planning permission to build 100 homes on its Ingleborough Road training ground in Birkenhead.
Tranmere acquired the land, formerly the school playing field for Birkenhead Institute, from the Council in 1994. Wilfred Owen attended the Institute between 1900 and 1906. In the 1920s 88 trees were planted in memory of former pupils, including Owen, who had been killed in WW1. There is also a memorial plaque.
More information about the memorial fields is on the UK National Inventory of War Memorials website.
The WOA response
"This planning application does not give adequate consideration to the war memorial status of this site, or to the question of how best to sustain the memory of the old boys of the Birkenhead Institute. The Wilfred Owen Association request that an attempt be made to identify and preserve the trees planted in memory of the Birkenhead Institute old boys killed in the First World War, and that full consideration be given to the fact that the playing fields and pavilion have a commemorative purpose.
The application in its present form seems ill-considered. It identifies only the tablet on the pavilion as the war memorial - without regard to the trees, or to the field itself - and the simplistic solution offered is that in moving the tablet, the whole memorial has been moved. We, the Wilfred Owen Association, are asking the planners to go back to the drawing board and to think of a way of sympathetically sustaining the memory of the old boys. This is an important case, since whatever is decided, it may act as a precedent for future planning applications relating to war memorial sites."