The first phase of the regeneration of a former colliery site in Newton-le-Willows, which will bring almost 500 jobs during the construction of its first phase and the potential of more than 1,300 new jobs in the completed buildings, has been given the green light.
The plans for Parkside have been approved by Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling up, Housing and Communities, following the decision to grant approval in December 2019 being called in for review by Government.
The first phase of development will see 93,000 square metres of new employment space built on the site, which will bring a range of jobs offering a variety of skills.
The announcement also saw approval of the Parkside Link Road, which will be pivotal in unlocking the sites full potential for future development and help to support the local environment.
Leader of St Helens Borough Council, Councillor David Baines said: “This is a momentous day and one that our council, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, and Conor McGinn MP have together worked very hard to achieve. It is a site of local, regional and national significance, and with the opportunity to be a key part of the Freeport plans for Liverpool City Region it has the potential to be of international significance too.
“This approval means that we can plan for the long-term future of the site with Parkside Link Road providing the vital infrastructure to help unlock further opportunities for development, bringing further jobs and business opportunities to the borough and securing a sustainable transport vision for the site that helps protect the local environment.
“St Helens Borough Council is full committed to doing everything we can to help attract investment and new job opportunities to the borough, and Parkside is the perfect example of this. For communities in Newton-le-Willows in need of jobs and investment this is especially good news. We’ve fought for this for a long time, and now the right decision has at last been made I’m looking forward to seeing work begin on site as quickly as possible.”
Commenting on the decision John Downes, chairman of Parkside Regeneration, added: “It’s been a long road, but we got there. I’m delighted that the Secretary of State saw as clearly as we did Parkside’s potential for transformational change and the contribution it will make to re-balancing the borough’s economy.
“Work starts today on what we need to do to get spades in the ground. There’ll be lots going on behind the scenes that people won’t see, but we’ve already pushed the ‘go’ button.
“This is very personal to me. I started my career at Parkside as a sixteen year-old and it brings that journey full circle. At its peak the colliery employed more than two thousand people and to be able to replace that lost work is hugely satisfying. The economy is changing rapidly as we adjust to a post-pandemic world and the site will provide options for logistics and manufacturing employers that will bring well-paid technical work to the whole of St Helens borough. The potential to capitalise on and support Liverpool Freeport’s growth is particularly noteworthy.
“Everyone in the borough will benefit from this investment. Not just because they’ll possibly know young people accessing apprenticeships and training opportunities, or relatives finding work at Parkside, but because the site will generate millions of pounds a year in rateable income for investment in social care and other vital public services. This is a ‘win’ for the whole borough.”
Parkside is seen as a key part of the Liverpool City Region’s Freeport plan as the largest of three ‘tax sites’ in the region, this represents a major opportunity to attract a range of investment and support new job creation at the site. It will strengthen the role that St Helens Borough plays in the region’s position as an attractive location for global trade, inward investment and innovation.
This approval along with freeport status builds on the borough’s advanced manufacturing capability, logistics and emerging location for research and innovation.
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, added: “It’s fantastic to see these plans approved. This is a real show of faith in the work that St Helens Borough Council and the wider city region are doing to attract investment and create good, well-paid jobs and apprenticeships for local people.
“It’s thanks to devolution, with local leaders working together in the best interests of our communities, that we’re able to regenerate sites like Parkside. What was once an active colliery will soon be a bustling hub of business and opportunities.
“The £24m we’ve invested in the Parkside link road should massively improve accessibility at the site and help us attract even more jobs and investment to Newton-le-Willows and across the region.”
Councillor Seve Gomez-Aspron, Deputy Leader of St Helens Council and Newton-le-Willows ward member, added: “Parkside has been a derelict colliery site since the pit was closed and 2,000 local workers lost their jobs in the early 1990s. It is fantastic news that the Government have respected local democracy and allowed the site to be brought back in to use to create employment opportunities for local residents.
“This also comes with over £800,000 of funding through s106 to improve local parks and green areas, schemes to get locals into the new jobs, new bus and cycle routes to the site and acres of new public parkland.
“We have always said that development must come with adequate infrastructure, and the new Parkside Link Road addresses that concern with a direct link to the M6.
“This is great news for Newton-le-Willows and job creation in the area, providing much needed jobs, investment and infrastructure.”
Conor McGinn, Member of Parliament for St Helens North, said: “This is welcome news which means we can get on with the ambitious plans to create jobs and bring investment through Parkside.
“Thirty years after the colliery closed, it is long overdue that we will finally see the site being brought back in to use. I will continue to work with Labour council colleagues and the Metro Mayor to drive forward the huge economic development opportunities this project can bring to St Helens and the wider Liverpool City and North West regions.
“I will also continue to press for the development to be supported by new infrastructure including a link road, alongside protections for the environment and investment in community facilities in Newton-le-Willows.”
Councillor Richard McCauley, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning, added: “We can never underestimate the importance of bringing new jobs to our borough, these developments will afford some of our residents the opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their families. I’m delighted that this site will once again be a place that provides job opportunities for our residents after having provided so many families with a steady income in its former life as a colliery.”