Crown Estate agrees Mersey Gateway lease

The Crown Estate has agreed a long lease with Halton Council for an area of foreshore on the River Mersey to facilitate the £600m Mersey Gateway Bridge project.

The deal is a one-off payment for the lease, valued at £800,000.

The civil engineering project will deliver a six-lane bridge designed to improve links between Runcorn and Widnes on the route into Liverpool, easing congestion on the existing Silver Jubilee Bridge.

The Crown Estate is one of the largest owners of rural and coastal land in the UK. The foreshore and river bed to the mid-point of the River Mersey sit within its portfolio.

The bridge is being built by the Merseylink consortium, which includes Kier, FCC, Bilfinger, Samsung CT and Macquarie. Merseylink was awarded the contract to design, build, finance, maintain and operate the bridge in June 2013. Construction is expected to last three-and-a-half years, with the bridge initially scheduled to open to traffic in the first half of 2017.

Malcolm Burns, rural and coastal portfolio manager for Wales and West at the Crown Estate said: "This lease agreement will help to facilitate one of the most significant infrastructure projects in the UK, which, once constructed, has the potential to provide major benefits to the local economy. This is another example of how we actively manage our assets to enhance the value of our portfolio, delivering a range of benefits that go beyond the commercial returns we generate for the nation's finances."

Cllr Rob Polhill, leader of Halton Council, said: "Assembling the land for our Mersey Gateway project has been a challenging undertaking but we have delivered it on time and within budget. The Crown Estate team played an important part in helping the council obtain the necessary rights and authorities to construct the new bridge in the Mersey Estuary over Crown Estate land."

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