Enabling work set to start on 104-acre St Helens brownfield site

The Cowley Hill site

Enabling work is set to begin early next year at the site of the former Pilkington Cowley Hill works in St Helens.

The 104-acre plot is the largest brownfield allocation within the St Helens Borough Council local development plan, which was adopted by the local authority in July.

BXB Cowley Hill, the joint venture between Liverpool-based brownfield land specialist BXB and Promenade Estates, has decided to start enabling works prior to offering the market an ‘oven ready’ site.

The company had previously considered selling the site with a certified technical solution for the delivery of a development platform, with the cost of remediation deducted from the final sale price.

It says the change of tack is to take advantage of the technical work already completed and the in-house expertise within the joint venture partners.

A spokesperson for BXB said: “We have the skills in-house to manage the process and, having already led on the whole technical strategy, putting it into place will be straightforward. We can offer additional certainty to the market and control the pace and quality of delivery.”

The company also revealed that the site has secured critical power infrastructure, providing certainty on another key strategic issue for purchasers.

“Working in partnership with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, St Helens Council and SP Energy Networks we’ve already overseen a £3m investment into the site, with the addition of a new 10MVA electrical substation which will provide power to the development and the adjacent area,” said the spokesperson.

“We’ve also just completed a new site access for Pilkington at City Road.”

BXB and Promenade secured planning consent for up to 1,100 new homes, an hotel and commercial space off College Street, north of St Helens town centre, in March 2022. The development of the site, once operated by glass maker Pilkington, is next to the firm’s glass coating facility, which remains operational.

Daniel Hynd, of Promenade Estates, said: “The site brings back into productive use vacant land that will have a massive positive contribution on the local economy of St Helens. It is part of our ‘brownfield first’ strategy and taking control of a key element of its delivery enables us to control quality whilst also sustaining momentum in the site’s delivery.”

The Liverpool-based firms are working together on two related sites in Thornton Cleveleys and successfully disposed of their Cameron’s Yard holding in Widnes last summer to builders’ merchants Beesley and Fildes.

The redevelopment of the Cowley Hill site is expected to generate capital expenditure of £200m, with a further £15m expected to be spent on goods and services each year by the new residents, and £1.5m of annual council tax receipts generated on full occupation.

The joint venture intends to retain the commercial element of the consent, which will be delivered once the housing site has been remediated and sold to a volume house-builder.

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