Councils bid for Towns Fund cash

Investment plans for St Helens and Runcorn are to be signed off before being submitted to the Government before a deadline of 31 January.

The executive board of Halton Council, which was informed in December that it had failed to secure Future High Streets Fund support, will tomorrow be asked to rubber-stamp the submission for Runcorn’s Towns Fund bid.

Runcorn was one of the 100 towns selected last year to submit a bid for up to £25m of funding to spur regeneration, connectivity and skills infrastructure as part of the £3.6n Gvoernment funding programme.

Runcorn’s Town Board has now set out its priority projects in its Town Investment Plan, which include the extension of the Brindley Theatre with a large café bar and civic space on Brindley Green; a creative and digital cluster; a mixed-use high street hub acting as a health and education facility; and enterprise facilities within the Station Quarter, which has long been a council priority.

The plan also includes provision for new homes on underused sites and the improvement of pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. Halton will need to provide £5m of match funding should it get the nod for a £25m package.

Also seeking backing is the St Helens Town Investment Board which will put its completed proposal before the council’s cabinet next Wednesday. With further support for the £54m Glass Futures centre of excellence project front of mind, the board has upped its bid to £38.55m.

According to the board’s report, “there are three thematic pillars: creating a place where people want to be, shrink and link, and connected communities”. The priorities it puts forward as shortlisted projects are: Glass Futures phase two; town entre living & regeneration; Heritage World; a youth zone and health innovation hub; connected places; and digital infrastructure.

Other local authorities that have looked to the Towns Fund to revivify town centres include Rochdale, which submitted in December; Blackpool, Oldham and Stockport, which is looking to fund a railway station in Cheadle.

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