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New images show how Levelling Up Fund bid funding could transform Earlestown and St Helens

New images show how Levelling Up Fund bids could support the work to transform The Gamble Building and the centre of Earlestown.

A CGO image shows how Earlestown Market Square could look

Article date: 4th August 2022

The images show striking public spaces around Market Square will turn the site into a thriving retail and event space could look as part of a bid for Levelling Up Funding in Earlestown, while the St Helens focused bid shows a glimpse of how a reimagined internal view of The Gamble building could look in part.

It comes as St Helens Borough Council has submitted two Levelling Up Fund bids, which will include a focus on projects in Earlestown and St Helens town centres such as improvements to currently closed historic buildings including Earlestown Town Hall and The Gamble Building so that they can reopen for sustainable community use in years to come.  

The bids are seeking funding of up to £40million to be shared across St Helens North and St Helens South & Whiston Parliamentary constituencies. They have been supported by the town's MPs Conor McGinn and Marie Rimmer.  

Conor McGinn MP said: "Our ambitious Levelling Up Fund bid, which I'm proud to fully back, is the latest bold step we are taking locally to transform our town centres in Earlestown and St Helens, and deliver exciting regeneration for our people, by our people. 

 "It's no secret that we want St Helens Borough to be the best place in which to live, work and visit in our whole region. By properly revitalising our historic places and cherished public spaces, we are pushing on to that goal at great speed." 

Marie Rimmer MP said: "These bids form part of our overall plan to help make our town even better. I am glad to be backing them as they will make a real difference to local residents. The Gamble Building is a jewel right in the heart of our town and it is right that once again it will be available for the public. 

"St Helens is a wonderful place to live and projects like will take us from strength and strength. I urge the Government to support our ambitious proposals." 

For St Helens North Parliamentary Constituency, the £20million bid will focus on three key projects in Earlestown town centre, building on the vision outlined in the Earlestown Masterplan Development Framework. This will include the revitalisation of Market Square, provision of a new market canopy and enhanced public realm. The plans will bring back vitality to the historic market town, attract activity into the heart of the town centre and increase its usage outside of the current market day programme.    

Funding would also help to support the restoration of Earlestown Town Hall and bring the much-loved Grade II listed building back into public use once again, protecting the heritage of the hall which famously hosted The Beatles in their heyday and providing a multi-use space for a range of organisations and residents.  

Finally, the third project to benefit would be Earlestown Rail Station that is regarded to have the oldest railway station building in the world still in passenger service. The bid will improve access to the station, bring the original building back into use and improve its connectivity to the town centre through enhanced entrance and signage. This is part of a bigger suite of funding bids, such as the 'Access for All' national programme to install lift access at the station, and this is exciting because it begins to bring together all the pieces of that puzzle. 

The aim of all of these projects is to bring vitality and activity into the heart of the town centre and increase its use outside of the current market day programmes. 

St Helens town centre falls within the St Helens South & Whiston Parliamentary Constituency. Where a constituency area crosses local authority boundaries, each local authority can choose to submit a joint or individual bid for the area. There is a strong case for a cross-boundary bid which fits within the investment themes set out in the Levelling Up prospectus. St Helens and Prescot town centres have many historic, cultural, and industrial connections and there are synergies in terms of cross border economic activity, residential catchment, and provision of local retail and services.   

A CGI image shows how inside The Gamble Building could look after redevelopment
The St Helens component will focus on supporting restoring The Gamble Building, bringing it back into use as a library and introducing other sustainable uses so it becomes a thriving community hub in the heart of the town centre.   

Welcoming the submission Councillor Richard McCauley, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning, said: "The Levelling Up Fund is the latest in a line of bids to Government, such as Towns Fund, as a way to bring in additional money to speed up the delivery of our key projects across the borough. Having our Town Centre Masterplan Development Frameworks in place, alongside the work of our Town Deal Board, means we are well placed to bid for pots of funding like this as we have a clear plan to regenerate our borough. We're very happy to have the backing of our two MPs for the bids that will bring benefits to the borough.

"This funding would include support our aim to bring the historic Earlestown Town Hall and The Gamble Building back into enhanced community use as soon as possible. They are real gems in our town centres and we know residents want to see them open again. I saw first-hand the fantastic job on the external works to The Gamble Building and similar activity is progressing well at Earlestown Town Hall, both funded by the Council. This additional funding will support the internal works so that in the coming years they can once again open their doors to the public."