Parkside Colliery CGI 2
The scheme was designed by Fletcher Rae Architects

Decision pending on Parkside Colliery

Sarah Townsend

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.”

Parkside Poster PH1 PRESS Dec19

The developer points to a host of economic benefits

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.  

Your Comments

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Several of these logistics projects are being held up. The Government should be encouraging sustainable development and investment.

By TJL

It is true there is widespread support for a rail-based freight interchange, which is regenerative, but the applications on the table are contrary to the local plan as they are entirely road-focused.

For 16 days at the Planning Inquiry the local resident opposition group did make a compelling case to the Inspector Dominic Young, as to why Secretary of State Robert Jenrick should refuse the applications due to the extent of Green Belt harm and other material planning considerations. Very special circumstances are disputed.

Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester Mayor also wrote in opposition pointing out that there currently is not enough information on air quality.

James Grundy MP also spoke out against it due to harm to the local road network, among other issues.

Many local councilors spoke on issues including harm to ecology and heritage assets, including the registered battlefield.

If logistics are to have a meaningful role to the North West economy, Grant Shapps would do well to allocate some funding to embed rail freight infrastructure. This is true for Liverpool’s expanded port. Why can’t the North West have a similar rail freight capacity to ports in the south of the country?

Everyone wants jobs and a buoyant economy, but it cannot be at all cost to the environment, or be unsustainable in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from dirty HGV vehicles.

A multi-modal approach is required.

By Jackie Copley, CPRE Lancashire

We are in the storm of climate and biodiversity crises. The problem is not going to “go away” and central and local governments are burying their heads in the sand if they think they can proceed as normal. The Climate Change act 2008 committed the government to reducing carbon emissions and there is no planet B .
What is the point in having green belt, a protected landscape??? People need their green space for their mental and physical health and well being and nature desperately needs it too. Air pollution from HGVs and other traffic in the area regularly exceeds legal limits impacting on health.
People also need jobs but it is a dream to suggest that hundreds of people will be employed- that is just exaggeration underpinned by over optimistic research. Warehousing work is also usually not “well paid”. It is largely of low value.There are empty B8 sheds close to the motorway network in this area.
Investment should be in sustainable development including multi modal transport , particularly rail, and the green economy notably infrastructure, which will provide jobs and better value employment. The green belt should be exactly that : an oxygen producing , carbon dioxide absorbing open landscape for people and nature.

Why have greenbelt if it is not protected? Greenbelt is protected for good reasons. Yet over the last few years it appears if ‘ special circumstances’ can be put forward that planning permission is granted. Special circumstances in this application is again the supposed number of jobs it MAY create. Look no further than Florida Farm development in Haydock a few miles from this application. Amazon and Kellogg’s took up those warehouses, built on greenbelt. The applicant put forward that the development would generate 2500 minimum jobs, including apprenticeships. Approximately 340 jobs materialised, NO apprenticeships. Warehouses are by their very nature man power scarce. They are designed for maximum output with minimal manpower to reduce costs. The applicants will obviously know this, so what is the real reason for perusing this application? It is not jobs, definitely not jobs. The residents of Newton le willows at the public inquiry put forward compelling reasons to why the build in this format should not go forward. I look forward to the report from the SOS to why it is allowed or hopefully dismissed.

By Newton resident

The new road is likely to increase traffic through the town of Newton, through Winick and other local villages.
The scale of the development is totally disproportionate to the surrounding residential area. This area already has more than its fair share of warehousing. Warehousing is becoming increasingly automated and the number of jobs promised are unlikely to materialise, as is shown in the previous development at Florida Farm.

By Anonymous

On paper and plans, this sounds like a good idea, but look further and there are numerous issues.

The Government has pledged to address climate change, destroying 93 acres of greenbelt and introducing HGVs into an area that has the highest deaths for respiratory disease in the U.K. is not exactly helping that policy. The Florida Farm site which was passed under the ‘exceptional circumstances’ banner has been the thorn in the Council’s crown, which has not only failed to deliver promised jobs, but has caused numerous problems for local residents.

If this development was on the footprint of Parkside, it would be viewed differently and most likely welcomed, but it’s not, that is only 12% of the whole site, 88% is fresh green farmland.

Let’s hope the Inspector will look at this closely, based upon employment figures at Florida Farm, there is an 80% deficit in the predicted jobs forecast.

We also need to remember that St Helens Planning are pushing for this as they own part of the scheme and already looking at a loss in value to what they paid. This was why they opposed Haydock Point, they are aware that two such schemes close to each other would not be feasible.

There’s a lot more to this development than meets the eye and questions the Inspector should be asking.

By Kate Knowles