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Article date - 27 January 2021
And today, Wednesday, the plan reached an important stage where it was approved by St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet.
Public, private and voluntary sectors have come together through the Town Deal Board, created in January 2020, and have spent the year developing key projects which make up the Town Investment Plan.
St Helens Borough was one of the towns chosen by Central Government to bid for up to £25m in funding to deliver transformative projects. There is also the option to bid for extra funding up to £50m if a project is deemed to be of national significance.
The plan aims to help to unlock new jobs, regeneration and bringing communities together through a range of potential developments across the wider St Helens Town Centre area.
The shortlist of projects includes expanding on Glass Futures, the innovative research facility which will be built next to the Totally Wicked Stadium, making the borough an international leader in glass development once again. The board believe this is a project that is of national significance which is why the bid is more than the initial £25m.
Other focus in the bid is on creating new town centre living options, enhancing the rich heritage through reimagining The World of Glass, supporting healthy communities through the creation of a youth zone and health innovation hub, creating a better-connected town centre with new walking and cycling routes and improving digital infrastructure to help businesses grow online.
Councillor David Baines, Leader of St Helens Borough Council, said: “We are committed to transforming our borough, to creating quality job opportunities, supporting businesses and recognising that town centres will need to radically change to become sustainable for the future. This is a collaborative and inclusive vision with many projects that could start soon and we hope the Government recognise that St Helens Borough is the right place to invest.”
Councillor Richard McCauley, Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration, said: “The Town Deal Board are all passionate about making our borough a place that recognises it’s heritage and uses that legacy to innovate for the future. I’d like to thank John Tabern, the chairman of the board, for his dedication and leadership throughout the past year. Thanks also go to the many partners and businesses across our town who have given up their vital time and shown their commitment to making St Helens Borough a place with a bright future.
“The Town Investment Plan is about creating a new green revolution in industry, alongside a focus on health and wellbeing through the regeneration of our Town Centre through sustainable development and enhancing digital connectivity – something that is at the forefront for most businesses in the past year as a result of the pandemic.
“We cannot guarantee that we will receive every penny of what we are asking for from Government, but through our partnership with English Cities Fund (ECF)we are already committed to transforming our borough. Any funding we do receive needs to be combined with match funding for the projects. ECF’s support shows we have a delivery partner ready to get started, and with our partners we are confident we can find that match funding to get the projects delivered. Meanwhile ECF and the council have started to prepare a masterplan for the Town Centre which builds on the Towns Fund opportunity.”
The bid will be submitted for initial evaluation by the Government with approved projects in the plan moving to a second stage of approval of full business plans.