The biggest ever single investment in St Helens town centre has been approved by St Helens Borough Council following a cabinet meeting today, which saw a £69.2 million package confirmed for Phase One A of the large-scale transformation project it is bringing forward in partnership with The English Cities Fund (ECF).
The once-in-a-generation investment will kickstart the regeneration of St Helens town centre, with a stunning new market hall flanked by a mixed-use area that includes a 120-bedroom globally branded hotel, 64 stunning new homes and 11,000 sq. ft. modern retail space to be delivered in the initial phase.
The different elements will all be linked together by extensive improvements to public areas, alongside a new and extended bus station. The new buildings and public spaces will collectively act as a catalyst for the radical transformation of the town centre whilst improving the viability of future phases.
During the design stages, significant inflation has been experienced across the global economy, including increased interest rate charges for borrowing and dramatic rises in construction materials.
As the Council is committed to the delivery of the scheme a pragmatic delivery solution has been found that divides the works into Phase One A and Phase One B. The former includes the new market hall, homes, retail space, and bus station components, together with related and connecting public realm improvements. The latter will see new offices and the refurbishment/reuse of the former Marks and Spencer building complete.
Cllr David Baines, St Helens Borough Council Leader said: “The investment demonstrates the absolute focus the council has on delivery against agreed priorities, listening to our communities and getting on with the job. What we have before us now is a long-awaited and much needed town centre transformation, one that will act as a catalyst for wider investment and regeneration. We have consulted widely, and market tested the best ideas for our area – all the while taking great care to ensure that ‘St Helensness’ is retained in the look and feel of everything we deliver.
“From the outset of the partnership with The English Cities Fund it was recognised that the deep-rooted challenges facing St Helens town centre would require significant investment from the Council to enable the first phase to go ahead and we have planned for this reality. Given the inflationary pressure being experienced across the global economy, increased borrowing costs and rises in construction materials, along with increasing demand for council services, we have not lacked for challenges. Yet we are finally ready to go, and pending planning approval, will focus on delivering the improvements everyone in our community wants to see.”
Max Bentham, Development Director for ECF, said: “The scale of Phase One will bring radical change for the better for the people of St Helens and help the town thrive again. We are delighted to be progressing and grateful for the input from the Council on a delivery strategy that helps mitigate the challenges posed by inflation, which are being felt everywhere.”
The next step will be ECF, in conjunction with the Council, advancing the detailed designs ahead of a Reserved Matters planning application submission in the Autumn. Other forthcoming milestones include finalising the appointment of a main contractor to enable the earliest commencement and completion of the phase one works.
Approval of the investment of £69.2m of Council funding to deliver Phase 1 of the St Helens town centre regeneration initiative has been identified within the Council’s Medium-Term Financial Strategy pipeline.
The scheme is the centrepiece of the St Helens Town Investment Plan and is part of the council’s medium-term budget. Support is also being made available in the form of £21.49 million in grants from the UK Government and equity investment by ECF.
Specifically, there are two related UK Government Town Deal grants totalling £10.49 million. The phase one proposals have also been awarded £0.812 million from the One Public Estate Brownfield Land Release Fund to help deliver the residential element. In addition to this backing, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has also provided financial support for the new St Helens bus station, which will be extended and renewed with a new modern interchange to encourage public transport and active travel usage.
Aside from creating new buildings and spaces to be enjoyed by children and families, the redevelopment will deliver significant social value in direct support of the council’s recently adopted Inclusive Growth Strategy. Phase one is expected to have a strong impact in terms of employment and Gross Value Added (GVA) – some 485 new jobs across the development once it is fully occupied, generating £23.2 million GVA each year.