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Article date - 12 October 2021
The proposed plans will facilitate transformational change that will build upon each of the town centres existing assets and uniqueness, delivering high quality, sustainable regeneration - transforming these key centres into exciting, vibrant places for residents and visitors to enjoy.
Both town centres are the subject of separate draft Masterplan Development Frameworks, which set out multi-million-pound vision and principles for each. The Frameworks have been prepared by St Helens Borough Council in partnership with regeneration experts, the English Cities Fund (ECF), and have been published ahead of a special Cabinet meeting to discuss the proposals on Wednesday 20 October.
Delivery of the ambitions for St Helens town centre are expected to span the next 20 years, with an initial Phase 1 planning application anticipated to be submitted early next year. The proposals for St Helens town centre divide the town centre into four zones, each of which will each play a role in the wider transformation of the town centre. These zones are; the Central Retail Zone; the Civic and Heritage Zone; the Discovery Zone; and the Education and Entertainment Zone.
The plans include bold ambitions to reduce the overall retail space and replace it with a new mixed-use development including a new market, a hotel, new cutting edge flexible commercial Grade A office space, a redesigned bus station and improved connectivity, the creation of a new public realm and a new green park called ‘Discovery Park’ in the centre of the town. The plans also provide space for new high-quality homes for families to live and grow.
In Earlestown, the draft Masterplan Framework seeks to return the town to its former glory as a market town by creating a thriving and vibrant high street and marketplace. It is envisaged this will be achieved through a variety of measures, including reopening the Town Hall and re-defining Market Square as a place for people, with a multi-use offer. In addition, the ambitions include accessibility improvements at Earlestown rail station and consideration to a new transport hub adjacent. It is hoped this will promote multi-modal journeys which is key to boosting economic vitality and enabling commuters to travel and interchange conveniently. An initial Phase 1 planning application for Earlestown town centre will be submitted in early 2022.
ECF is a national strategic joint venture set up by Homes England, Legal & General and leading developer, Muse Developments. Since 2001, ECF has been delivering some of the most complex and most successful urban regeneration projects across the UK. Following its expansion in 2018, it continues to take on large, complex sites, to create inspiring new places.
Councillor David Baines, Leader at St Helens Borough Council, said: “I am delighted to finally unveil these transformational masterplans for both St Helens and Earlestown town centres. The proposals will deliver once in a lifetime redevelopment at the heart of our towns.
We want our town centres to be child and family-friendly, safe and sustainable thriving places for local businesses, shoppers, visitors, and residents, and that’s what these plans will help to deliver.
The plans will now go to a special meeting of Cabinet on the 20th October, and then a period of public consultation and a series of events across the borough will begin from 1st November for 6 weeks. We want as many residents, businesses and community groups as possible to have their say and to help shape the plans before planning applications are submitted early in the new year.”
Commenting on the proposals, Leon Guyett, Development Director at ECF, said:
“We are delighted to be working with St Helens Council on such an incredibly exciting and transformational set of proposals. The English Cities Fund has a track record of delivering town centre regeneration projects across the country, from Salford to Newham, and we look forward to bringing our expertise and knowledge to the St Helens Borough over the next twenty years.”
Public consultations on the draft Development Masterplan Frameworks will be launched on Monday 1st November. This will be an opportunity for residents, communities and local businesses to have their say on the plans and will include a series of physical engagement events across the borough during the 6-week consultation period, as well as a number of ways to engage online.