Northern Powerhouse Secretary urged to back Parkside Colliery scheme
The regeneration of the former Parkside Colliery in Newton-le-Willows will make a ‘major contribution’ to the Government’s plans to level-up the economies of the North and South, says the chairman of the company tasked with its delivery.
Following the conclusion of the public inquiry into the scheme last week, John Downes of Parkside Regeneration has written to Northern Powerhouse secretary Grant Shapps MP urging him to get behind the project.
The development, which will provide 1,330 new jobs when fully complete, would add more than £80m a year to the St Helens economy and provide £2.2m a year in business rates to support local services.
He said: “We have written to Mr Shapps to request his support of the Parkside regeneration project. The colliery’s redevelopment fits squarely with the Government’s ambitions to re-balance the economy, not least because of its scale and regional significance.
“It’s a shovel-ready scheme that will provide more than 450 construction jobs during the £78m build phase. The region simply can’t afford to turn down such a stimulus given the impact of the pandemic.”
He added: “The scheme will add vital logistics capacity at a time of sustained growth and investment in the Port of Liverpool and enable St Helens to capture well-paid jobs in the logistics sector.
“It enjoys widespread support across the political and economic spectrum and I have offered to brief Mr Shapps in detail so that he understands the picture fully.”
In his letter, Mr Downes points to the fact that St Helens has been designated as a “high priority” for the Government’s Towns Fund, with a major town centre masterplan being developed in partnership with English Cities Fund.
“It would be remiss to hamper investment elsewhere in the area, creating jobs that allow people to support a newly-regenerated town for decades to come,” he says in his letter.
The virtual public inquiry heard evidence from a wide range of stakeholders and has now closed.
The planning inspector will make recommendations in due course to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government who will make the final decision on whether Parkside can proceed.
The scheme was called in by the Government last May.
When the council approved outline planning permission for the first phase of the scheme in December 2019, 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.