- St Helens has a population of 177,500
- The borough has an above average level of job seekers allowance claimants, 22.4% compared to 19.4% in the North West
- 2,000 net additional jobs were created in St Helens between 1999 and 2007, the strongest performer of the Merseyside authority areas
Steven Brogan, centre manager of Church Square shopping centre, owned by ING Real Estate: "We have certainly had a downturn but not as bad as the national benchmark for similar centres. Last year footfall was down 3.69% compared to 2008. I think the media has hyped the recession to a worse situation than it is. We should have 15 to 20 shops empty if you believe everything you read. As it is, we have four empty shops out of 84. We are tending to see a lot of interest from independents, not so much the larger retailers. This is the sort of town centre where the people that live and work here tend to stay to shop. Sure we lose some to Trafford Centre and Liverpool where people go for a day trip but we always will. Our shoppers are very loyal in St Helens, partly to do with being in the rugby league corridor. They're St Helens through and through."
Langtree has historically been one of the most active developers and managers of commercial property in St Helens and the town has a bright future, according to Stephen Barnes, Langtree's development director. "Currently we own and manage a range of properties including offices, warehouse space and light industrial units. These range in size form 500 sq ft industrial units to 270,000 sq ft warehouses. Despite the tougher economic environment that we find ourselves in, demand in the town has held up well and our flexible and affordable approach is ensuring that we are maintaining strong occupancy levels.
"We are also involved in the town's key regeneration project: the development of a new 18,000-seat stadium for St Helens Rugby League Club at the former United Glass site just outside the town centre which we expect to be able to commence in the very near future.
"As a development and investment location, St Helens has lots going for it. Its transport links are excellent, sitting as they do within easy reach of the M6 and M62 allowing you to drive to Manchester, Liverpool or Preston in under an hour. It also has easy access to the regions airports and we understand that there will be further investment in the rail link between Manchester and Liverpool. In short, the town is well located, has the right infrastructure in place and commands a competitive pricing structure that will encourage investment."