English Cities Fund, the consortium of Muse Developments, Legal & General and Homes England, and St Helens Council have committed to regenerating the Merseyside town, including delivering a potential £200m mixed-use scheme.
The 20-year development agreement comes after the parties teamed up in March to start devising a masterplan that would earmark several sites across the borough for redevelopment.
At the time, the masterplan was tipped to include a £200m commercial and leisure-led investment to rejuvenate St Helens town centre. The proposal included new homes, revamped retail spaces, offices and a hotel, while nearby Earlestown town centre would also be regenerated under the plans.
However, at the time, St Helens had yet to formally appoint a development partner for the work. The plan was to work with ECF over the ensuing six months to draw up an initial masterplan that identified key opportunities.
However, the Covid-19 crisis and market disruption forced the parties to delay the plans. Now that an agreement has been reached, the partnership will spend the next six months masterplanning a scheme, including identifying potential first phases of regeneration in both St Helens and Earlestown.
Leon Guyett, development director at ECF, said: “We’re at the next stage of the journey with our new partners at St Helens Borough Council and we’re proud to reach this latest milestone.
“St Helens is a proud borough steeped in history, but with a real aspiration to bring innovative spaces and places to the borough, which is in the fund’s DNA.
“We look forward to further strengthening our partnership with the council as we work together to create a draft masterplan, which will be subject to a consultation exercise in the future.”
David Baines, leader of St Helens Borough Council, added: “At the beginning of March, we announced our game-changing partnership with ECF, then two weeks later we found ourselves amid an economy changed profoundly by the impact of Covid-19.
“The need to regenerate our borough has never been greater and as we look towards resetting our future, this long-term partnership over 20 years will help us to do that better than many other towns and cities.”
Baines said the initial focus of the work would be “transforming our town centres, then expanding across the borough and bringing about the change we know our residents are keen to see
“Throughout the summer we have been working closely on shaping plans that will fit into a post-pandemic world, and a detailed masterplan will be developed over the next six months, which will give St Helens the opportunity to show others how future regeneration schemes will consider some of the fundamental economic shifts that have taken place because of Covid-19.”
ECF comprises developer Muse Developments, fund manager Legal & General and government agency Homes England.
CBRE acted on behalf of St Helens Council in finalising the agreement.