Transforming our town
Rewind ten years and a trip to the town centre on a Saturday would have seen it packed with people shopping. Fast forward to today and internet shopping, changing shopping habits and the global recession have fundamentally changed the way many high street retailers operate. Brands such as Woolworths, BHS, HMV and Barratts have closed down altogether, while companies such as Marks & Spencer are changing in response to how their customers now shop – with a focus more and more on out of town and food led shopping experiences. These changes are happening everywhere and cannot be ignored. It is also the case that the lack of quality shops and places to eat and drink in St Helens Town Centre has contributed to the decline.
We know that the regeneration of the town centre is top of residents’ wish lists, and it is also one of the council’s biggest priorities too. That’s why we have developed an ambitious strategy to ensure St Helens Town Centre grows and develops into one that can rival the best and instil pride among local people.
Our strategy outlines a number of key developments which would be pivotal in providing the opportunity to transform the town centre.
Chief among these would be an enhanced shopping area in keeping with the changing face of the British high street, with independent shops appearing alongside well known high street brands. More family-centred restaurants and cafés would feature together with a vibrant night time economy. Part of the town centre vision is a plan to redevelop the area around the section of Sankey Canal into a modern waterfront area, complete with bars and restaurants on lower levels and desirable canal-side apartments above, taking inspiration from stylish cities around the UK and Europe.
Inner-city and town centre living is becoming increasingly appealing to young professionals, with easy access to the leisure and culture they want. Underused and vacant sites around the town centre boundary. Already there are signs of housing developers looking to invest in this vision, with two vacant sites – the former Tyrers department store and empty office space on Claughton Street – purchased for redevelopment into modern, luxury apartments.
Improved connectivity is also a key part of the town centre regeneration. In 2018, new franchise arrangements will see St Helens Central gain direct connectivity to destinations such as Glasgow and Lancaster, as well as faster direct routes into Liverpool. Stations across the borough will also have faster journey times to Manchester too, and it’s the council’s hope to create a direct route to Manchester from St Helens Central in the years ahead.
St Helens set to become a thriving cultural centre
St Helens has a growing reputation as a centre of excellence for arts and culture, and in particular socially engaged arts, with the inclusion of both the Heart of Glass and St Helens Libraries Cultural Hubs programme in Art Council England’s National Portfolio.
In order to develop its reputation further and help local art organisations to become more self-sustaining over the longer term, an approach has been agreed upon to bring together the collective strengths of the arts and cultural sector across the borough to form an Arts and Culture Partnership.
This partnership would be housed in a newly developed St Helens Arts and Cultural Centre, which would be located in the heart of the town. It is proposed that the centre would be located within the existing World of Glass building, which will require redeveloping and extending to accommodate key partners and allow for a greater selection of arts and cultural activities to take place.
An arts and cultural centre within the town will provide people with an attractive alternative to visit the town centre and it a competitive advantage over nearby towns, as well as forming part of the wider vision to redevelop and transform St Helens Town Centre.
The centre would also include conference and exhibition facilities.
Boosting St Helen’s economy
St Helens, on the whole, is on the cusp of a series of major developments in the years ahead that are set to transform the economic prospects of the borough.
Haydock Green plans will see land adjacent to Haydock Industrial Estate built out of half a million sq ft of warehousing and new access off Penny Lane. Upon completion, the site –developed by Morley Estates –will provide state of the art accommodation for potentially three major national employers.
Meanwhile, at nearby junction 23 of the M6 motorway, building is under way for two large industrial and distribution warehouses totalling around 1.4m sq ft of development at Florida Farm North. The £150m M6Major.com development by Bericote, which will be complete with a new woodland and amenity area, has the potential to bring £2,500 jobs to the area when complete.
Over at the Mere Grange site in Lea Green, close to the St Helens Linkway, construction is underway on a multi-million pound mixed use industrial and housing development. Mere Grange is a 21-acre strategic employment site located close to the M62. The site already benefits from a first phase of office workspace, but phase two will now see the development of 149,250 sq ft of light industrial space, creating around 60 new jobs and bringing in £13.9m of investment into the area. In addition, the site could also see the development of up to 120 new homes in a future phase.
Parkside Regeneration, a joint venture between St Helens Council and commercial developers Langtree, is proposing to transform the derelict Parkside Colliery site located on the south-eastern edge of Newton-le-Willows, into a new employment park. The project could generate an estimated £80m per year of new economic activity in the Liverpool City Region, bring in up to £2.2m per year in business rates, and create up to 1,300 permanent new logistics and manufacturing jobs, with an additional 400 jobs during its construction.
A planning application for Phase 1 of Parkside was submitted on 16th January 2018 to St Helens Council.
Supporting the site’s infrastructure, a new link road has been proposed by St Helens Council, easing congestion in the area and diverting any potential commercial traffic away from Newton-le-Willows, Winwick and Hermitage Green. Running through Parkside, the link road would connect the A49 to the strategic motorway network at M6 Junction 22, further enhancing the site’s appeal to commercial developers.
Submission of the link road’s planning application to St Helens and Warrington councils is expected in early March 2018, and follows an extensive consultation with residents and businesses in the area in summer 2017.
An integrated health and social care system
By 2020 we will have £100million less than we need to deliver health and social care in St Helens. This means we won’t be able to afford all of the services that people need and rely on. We will have to say no when we have said yes in the past.
Something has to change.
St Helens Cares is the new approach to delivering health and social care in St Helens.
St Helens Cares brings together a wide range of public service organisations united by one goal, to improve people’s lives in St Helens and to improve the place as a whole.
Organisations involved with St Helens Cares will take joint responsibility for the quality of care and for managing the available funding to provide services. Those organisations include, health and social car providers such as St Helens CCG, St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust, St Helens Council, Registered Social Landlords, Fire, Police, schools, community probation, commissioned voluntary services, faith group and community organisations.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org