Government calls in Parkside Colliery regeneration plans for public inquiry

The proposed scheme

A regeneration scheme that could create almost 2,000 jobs on a former St Helens colliery has been called in by the Government.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has written to St Helens Council informing it that he has called in two applications relating to the former Parkside Colliery for a public inquiry.

When the council approved outline planning permission for the first phase of the scheme last December, it said it could generate up to £2m a year in rates payments for the authority.

Proposals would see the site transformed into a major logistics hub.

Parkside Regeneration is a joint venture between developers Langtree and St Helens Council formed to redevelop the coal mine that closed in 1993.

However, that has now been put on hold.

In a joint statemet from Parkside Regeneration chairman John Downes, and St Helens Council leader, Cllr David Baines, they said: “Whilst disappointing that the scheme has been called in, reviews of this type are not uncommon in the planning process and the Parkside Regeneration Joint Venture will now work diligently to provide the information needed by the inquiry team.

“The plans for phase 1 of the redevelopment of Parkside and for the Parkside Link Road are firmly in line with the council’s emerging Local Plan and demonstrate a very clear and compelling economic case.

“Even with our cautious economic forecasts we are predicting 1,330 end-user jobs in this first phase of the redevelopment of the Parkside site as well as 457 construction jobs. This is a derelict colliery that once employed two thousand people.

“The development of strong manufacturing and logistics sectors are a stated priority for St Helens Council and current circumstances have demonstrated the importance of these industries more widely to our society.

“The changes in consumer habits that we saw before lockdown are likely to be further embedded going forward and the colliery’s regeneration represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for St Helens to capture a significant slice of the employment this will generate.”

They added: “As businesses open up again, one thing is certain, we need to stimulate the economy as much as possible.

“We’re ready to invest more than £100m in a local supply chain which will generate more than £80m a year in new economic output. Once the scheme is complete it will generate more than £2m a year in new rates income for the council to invest in vital public services.

“Our focus now will be on ensuring that the Secretary of State has everything required to review our case thoroughly during the inquiry and we will then await the decision keenly.”

Also called in by Mr Jenrick is a plan by Warrington-based haulier Eddie Stobart to build a £75m national distribution centre on greenbelt land at Appleton Thorn, Warrington.

Warrington South MP Andy Carter said: “I welcome this decision, Ministers use this power infrequently and it demonstrates the scale and significance of the application and the impact that it could have on the surrounding area.

“I want business to expand a grow here, but I have been clear for some time that we need a brownfield and infrastructure first approach, utilising sites such as Fiddlers Ferry power station which has now closed, not the greenbelt.”

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