Work is set to start to enhance walking and cycling infrastructure in two local parks to improve access to one of St Helens’ busiest railway stations as part of the £15m St Helens Southern Gateway project.
At a planning committee meeting last night (Tuesday 15 February) permission was granted to widen footpaths in Sherdley Park and Sutton Park as part of a broader network of active travel to and from Lea Green railway station and surrounding residential areas.
A partnership between St Helens Borough Council; Liverpool City Region Combined Authority; and Northern Rail – St Helens Southern Gateway focusses on making sustainable transport an easier choice for commuters by linking up Lea Green – which since 2018 has seen an increase in services stopping at the station – with safe, dedicated pedestrian and cycling routes, connecting nearby residential, leisure and employment areas.
The new cycle routes, seven in total, are the first phase of the scheme – funded by the Combined Authority’s Transforming Cities Fund – with other significant developments including a new station building at Lea Green with waiting room and other customer facilities, along with a decked car park which would increase the park and ride capacity to around 450.
Work on the new car park is expected to start later in the spring – while it is anticipated work on the new station building will start in the summer.
A new signalised junction, with specially-allocated lanes to protect cyclists from motor traffic, is also set to replace the roundabout by the Bull and Dog pub next to the station – with work expected to start late summer 2022.
St Helens Southern Gateway is just one of a number of schemes being delivered by St Helens Borough Council under an active travel programme to increase walking and cycling infrastructure, with work having recently been completed to transform a muddy path prone to flooding from College Street to Merton Bank Road along Rainford Brook into a smooth surface fit for walking and cycling.
St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, Labour Councillor Andy Bowden, said:
“This project intends to make walking and cycling an easier option, thereby encouraging active travel for short trips, with public transport encouraged for longer trips at a new and improved Lea Green station which offers more opportunities to travel across the UK. This is another example of Labour delivering for St Helens borough.”
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of Liverpool City Region said:
“To hit our 2040 net zero carbon target, we need to improve our local transport network to make it greener, more reliable and more affordable for local people. Having devolution means that we have the power to make more decisions locally to make that happen.
“By investing nearly £15m in and around Lea Green station we’re going to improve the facilities and make it a much better place for rail users and cyclists alike – and hopefully help take some cars off the road in the process!
“My wider plans are for a London-style transport network, with tap-in contactless payments, better buses and trains and 600km of new and upgraded walking and cycling routes. We’re using devolution to take greater control over local transport and run it in the interests of our residents – not private shareholders.”
The whole scheme is expected to be completed by early summer 2023.
For more information on the St Helens Southern Gateway project, visit: www.sthelens.gov.uk/leagreen.