The inquiry into Parkside Regeneration’s proposed 1m sq ft industrial estate in St Helens has concluded and the developer has begged Northern Powerhouse secretary Grant Shapps to approve the scheme.
Parkside Regeneration, a joint venture between developer Langtree and St Helens Council, wants to redevelop the former 230-acre colliery in Newton-le-Willows.
John Downes, chairman of Parkside Regeneration and group chief executive of Langtree has urged Shapps to get behind the development, claiming it would create up to 1,330 new jobs once complete, add more than £80m annually to the St Helens economy, and generate £2.2m a year in business rates to support local services.
“We have written to Mr Shapps to request his support of the Parkside regeneration project,” Downes said in a statement to media. “The colliery’s redevelopment fits squarely with the Government’s ambitions to rebalance the economy, not least because of its scale and regional significance.
“It’s a shovel-ready scheme that will provide more than 450 construction jobs during the £78m build phase. The region simply can’t afford to turn down such a stimulus given the impact of the pandemic.”
In addition to warehouse units, the plans for Parkside Colliery include the creation of a £40m link road that would connect the employment site to the nearby motorway.
The proposed link road would cut through 93 acres of Green Belt in the boroughs of St Helens and Warrington, and the plans have drawn criticism from local residents, who claim the project would cause a rise in pollution levels due to an increase in traffic and the loss of green space in the area
St Helens Council approved the outline planning application last year but the decision was recommended for sign-off by the Secretary of State because of its scale, and was subsequently called in by the Government.
The public inquiry, which began in early January and has now closed, heard evidence from a wide range of stakeholders. The planning inspector is to make recommendations in due course to the Secretary of State, who will make the final decision on whether Parkside Regeneration can proceed.
The project would make a “major contribution” to the Government’s plans to ‘level up’ the economies of the north and south of England, Downes wrote in his letter.
“The scheme will add vital logistics capacity at a time of sustained growth and investment in the Port of Liverpool and enable St Helens to capture well-paid jobs in the logistics sector.
“It enjoys widespread support across the political and economic spectrum and I have offered to brief Mr Shapps in detail so that he understands the picture fully,” he said.
The scheme was designed by Fletcher Rae Architects, with planning consultancy from Spawforths.