The developer has received £2.05m from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to help fund infrastructure works to progress its 240-unit residential development in St Helens.
The grant has been awarded from the authority’s £45m Brownfield Land Fund allocation from central Government. It will be used to construct a spine road and associated infrastructure needed to unlock the first phase of Harworth Group’s Moss Nook, comprising around 240 units over 16 acres.
The works began in early November, undertaken by main contractor PM Harris, and are expected to take around nine months. Further landscaping work is expected to compete in late 2021. As well as easing congestion issues, the new road is intended to provide safer walking and cycling connections with the Moss Nook development.
Harworth is also upgrading the power network across the site so that all new homes have electric vehicle charging points.
The 95-acre derelict brownfield site lies around a mile south of St Helens town centre. It has outline planning consent for 900 homes, but a complex history of usage – including a coal pit, colliery and concrete pipeworks – has means the scheme is challenging to develop, according to Harworth.
The whole site is anticipated to take between eight and 10 years to complete.
Place North West reported in October that Harworth was in advanced talks with a national housebuilder to deliver the first phase of 240 homes at Moss Nook. The developer said this week it intends to announce its name of its housebuilding partner early next year.
The first homes are scheduled to be built and occupied by the end of 2021.
Agency Cushman & Wakefield advised Harworth on its funding application the combined authority.
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “We have a very clear policy that we should look at brownfield sites first when building the homes that we need in our city region.
“As land previously used for mining and other industrial processes, and located close to the centre of St Helens, Moss Nook is exactly the type of brownfield site we should be developing and I’m pleased that our £2m will enable this project to come forward.”
Matt Whiteley, development manager at Harworth Group, said: “Moss Nook is Harworth’s first residential development in the North West following our purchase of the site in 2018, and this grant is essential in bringing forward a site that has stalled for a number of years.
“Despite the best of the British weather, works are progressing extremely well and we look forward to making our first engineered land sale in early 2021 so people can start living on the development as soon as possible.”
St Helens has a ‘brownfield first’ planning policy, “so funding like this is vital in helping us turn eyesore sites like this into quality housing”, added Cllr Richard McCauley, St Helens Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and planning.
“Like any largescale development, it is important to have the correct infrastructure in place to cope with the demands – and the fact this new road will open up safe walking and cycling routes is an added bonus as we look to encourage more sustainable, greener ways of travel – as well as promote a healthier lifestyle.”