Regeneration scheme that could create almost 2,000 jobs approved by councillors

The proposed scheme

A regeneration scheme that could create almost 2,000 jobs has been approved by St Helens Council.

The planning application for the former Parkside Colliery site in Newton-le-Willows, which closed in 1993, was passed by councillors last night.

The application for the redevelopment of the land was submitted in January 2018.

John Downes, chairman of Parkside Regeneration, the joint venture between developers Langtree and St Helens Council formed to redevelop the coal mine, welcomed the news.

He said: “It’s been a long road to arrive at this point and, of course, we’re very pleased that the council has acknowledged both the planning and socio-economic merits of our proposals. The scheme will now go before the Secretary of State for final approval.”

He added: “We would hope the Government see as clearly as we do the scheme’s value in terms of job creation, the re-use of a key brownfield site, and the work that we have been doing with our partners to ensure a job-ready local workforce that can benefit from the thousands of new positions the completed scheme will deliver.

“The site has a very important history.

“Having started my working life at the colliery in 1976, I am well aware of the key local employment role it played, a place of hard work and community.

“If we are successful in achieving planning consent for the site now that it has been approved by St Helens Council, then we will do everything possible to ensure that we try and respect the colliery’s heritage and to recreate its role as a key site providing strong local employment opportunities.

“It will deliver more than £2m of new rates income each year for the local authority to invest in key public services.

“The boost to the St Helens economy will be even more significant, with an additional £80m a year of new output. Parkside is a genuine game-changer in an area in need of one.”

Mr Downes said: “The economy is changing rapidly and St Helens finds itself in a very strong position to capitalise on this, given its location on key roads and motorways and its proximity both to the Port of Liverpool and major population centres.

“We have taken a cautious approach to our employment forecasts, but even with that we are anticipating 1,330 end-user jobs in this first phase and 457 construction jobs.

“Those figures are roughly the total number of jobs on the site when the colliery was at its peak. We hope that this, alone, is a very compelling argument for the Secretary of State to consider.

“Our focus now is in ensuring that the Secretary of State has everything required to assess our application thoroughly and we await the decision keenly.”

At the time the application was submitted, Mr Downes, who is also group chief executive of Langtree, said: “The demand for logistics and manufacturing space continues to be very strong and our proposals meet a clear need in the market.

“We are keen to ensure that our investment benefits the local community as much as possible and have put in place arrangements with the Northern Logistics Academy and St Helens Chamber of Commerce to maximise the number of training opportunities for local people and to ensure robust engagement with a local supply chain.”

Leader of St Helens Council, Cllr David Baines, tweeted last night: “Absolutely delighted that @StHLabour councillors on Planning committee have tonight voted to unlock regeneration of the former Parkside colliery site, something which has been almost three decades in the making. It will bring investment & jobs, & is great news for our borough!”

A new link road in to the site from junction 22 of the M6 was suggested by the public during last year’s consultation and has been carried forward by St Helens Council.

The planning application covered the project’s proposed first stage, which would incorporate up to one million sq ft of new employment space.

Click here to sign up to receive our new South West business news...