Glassmaker to plough land sale proceeds back into St Helens operations

Cowley Hill brownfield land

Glassmaker Pilkington is expected to re-invest sale proceeds from a substantial plot of land back into its St Helens plant.

Japan-based parent group NSG is offloading 104 acres of brownfield land at the Cowley Hill works, off College Street in the town, to developers who propose to build up to 800 homes over the next five to seven years.

The site has already been recognised by St Helens Council as suitable for re-development and is the largest residential allocation within the authority’s emerging Local Development Plan.

Following the emergence of new technologies and the consolidation of Pilkington’s activities over the past decade, the land is now surplus to requirements.

Contaminated land specialists, BXB Cowley Hill, has subsequently purchased the land with the ambition of delivering new homes at this location.

With some sections of the Cowley Hill Works having been redundant for many years, BXB Cowley Hill is now working closely with Pilkington, who continue to occupy 40 acres, to ensure their long-term future at Cowley Hill and to provide a viable and deliverable brownfield housing site within St Helens.

The draft Local Plan has earmarked the site for more than 800 new homes which, once planning permission is granted, are expected to be delivered over a five- to seven-year timeframe.

It is also considered that the regeneration of the site will reduce local pressure on Green Belt land within the borough and deliver many strategic regeneration benefits to the town.

With town centres in decline nationally it is hoped that the delivery of new, high-quality housing close to the town centre will provide a boost to struggling local town centre-based business.

BXB Cowley Hill is currently in the process of preparing a masterplan for the site, with a planning application expected to be submitted by the end of the year.

Ahead of the masterplan, a two-stage public consultation will be held, with the first round focusing on the vision for the site.

Local residents will be provided with a leaflet advising of the plans and ways to provide feedback.

Gary Goodman, director at BXB Cowley Hill, said: “Cowley Hill Works presents a fantastic opportunity for St Helens to deliver much-needed residential land within a sustainability location whilst ensuring the longevity of a key local employer.

“From the outset our approach to this site has been collaborative and this approach will continue as we seek to ensure the delivery of this complex brownfield site, which has laid dormant for many years.”

He added: “Cowley Hill Works is the first joint venture between BXB Land Solutions and Promenade Estates, both of whom have a wealth of development expertise.

“We are committed to delivering a development that will provide high-quality homes to the St Helens residential market. This site also presents the opportunity for other key stakeholders to work alongside us and ensure our initial investment acts as a catalysis and ensure longer-term strategic benefits can be delivered within this locality, which responds to the local need and assist the borough in securing their long-term objectives.”

He said: “Against the backdrop of our collaborative approach, we are holding two key stages of public consultation and we are looking forward to local people engaging with us during this time.”

While 104 acres of redundant land will be redeveloped under BXB Cowley Hill’s proposals, NSG Pilkington UK Ltd will continue to operate on 40 acres, in its current factory at the east of the site.

It is understood that the receipts generated from the sale of the land will be re-invested by NSG Group into its St Helens operations.

Gary Charlton, strategic programme director at NSG Pilkington UK, said: “Much of the land at Cowley Hill Works has sat redundant for a number of years and against the background of the local housing need, we are confident that the re-use of our surplus land for its allocated land use will benefit the whole of St Helens.

“We will continue to operate to the east of the site and look forward to working alongside BXB Cowley Hill to deliver improvements to our current facility.”

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