Earlestown regeneration projects have been given a huge £20million boost thanks to a successful Levelling Up Fund bid by St Helens Borough Council.
The scheme will support plans to transform the historic market square together with the public realm, bring Earlestown Town Hall back into public use and support improvements at Earlestown Rail Station.
The funding, backed by St Helens North MP Conor McGinn, was one of only two successful bids in the Liverpool City Region under the second round of Levelling Up Funding.
Welcoming the news, Councillor David Baines, Leader of St Helens Borough Council, said: “We’re delighted to receive this funding in support of our plans for Earlestown and I would like to thank council officers and Conor McGinn for their support for this vital and transformational plan. The project will revitalise this historic market town, facilitate the reopening of Earlestown Town Hall and support transport improvements at Earlestown Rail Station, which has the world’s oldest rail junction and station building still in passenger service.”
Conor McGinn, St Helens North MP, added: “It’s great news that our joint council-MP bid for St Helens North to the Levelling Up Fund Round 2 has been successful. In securing £20m from the Levelling Up Fund for the regeneration of Earlestown, we’re on course to deliver the approved regeneration plans for the historic market square and reopen the town hall as a new hub.
“The approach we’ve taken as a team of political, business and community leaders is to be ambitious for the whole borough and every part of St Helens, and this good news for Newton-le-Willows alongside the continuing investment in St Helens town centre and local areas.”
Max Bentham, development director at The English Cities Fund, said: “It’s fantastic news to hear that St Helens Borough Council has received levelling-up funding to accelerate the delivery of our combined vision for Earlestown town centre.
“Both the partnership and the vision for the borough is unique and it’s clear that excitement is building around what we’re looking to achieve here. Together, we’re working hard with, and for the community, to turn that vision for Earlestown and the wider borough into reality.
“Essentially people make place, and this funding injection will help to revitalise a historic market town, bringing communities together, while connecting them to opportunities to thrive and build a brighter future.”
The three key projects in Earlestown town centre will build on the vision outlined in the approved Earlestown Masterplan Development Framework. This includes the revitalisation of Market Square, provision of a new market canopy and enhanced public realm. The plans will revitalise the historic market town, attract activity into the heart of the town centre and increase its usage outside of the current market days programme.
Funding will also help to support the ongoing restoration of Earlestown Town Hall and bring the much-loved Grade II listed building 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 Earlestown Rail Station scheme will improve access to the station, bring an original building back into use and improve its connectivity to the town centre through enhanced entrance and signage.
Unfortunately, a second bid for funding for The Gamble building was unsuccessful but the council has reiterated its commitment to the project to transform the building.
Councillor Baines added: “Whilst it is fantastic news for Earlestown, we are disappointed that our other bid to support the repurposing of The Gamble in St Helens town centre was unsuccessful. However, we have always been clear that The Gamble is an important St Helens regeneration project and we will continue to work on the delivery of this exciting scheme via alternative funding arrangements.
“Our commitment is clear through the approval last week for phase four of the project. This will see designs developed for inside the building which has already benefited from external fabric repair works. We remain determined to preserve and enhance this jewel of St Helens town centre and look forward to seeing the final plans for its future.”