Haulage giant Stobart's ambition to create a road-rail-river distribution centre in Widnes has received a financial boost from the North West Development Agency.
The agency will invest £4.3m for site remediation works at 3MG – Mersey Multimodal Gateway – to bring 43.8 acres, around one quarter of the park's land, into productive use.
Plans for the site include the construction of a 550,000 sq ft warehouse to be completed by 2010.
Peter White, NWDA executive director of development, said: "As one of the region's strategic regional sites, the NWDA recognises the potential of 3MG as a key employment location. Through enabling its remediation to bring it back into economic use, the agency's investment will kick-start a major redevelopment that will help to significantly rejuvenate this area of Halton, lever in new private sector investment and create new job opportunities for the local community."
Stobart owns around 200 acres at the Widnes site, assembled in stages through the acquisitions of O'Connor Group, Westbury and a deal with chemical group Tessenderlo. Stobart also owns the Port of Weston in nearby Runcorn serving the Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal.
3MG handles up to 16 trains a day and has space for 6,200 containers. There is planning consent for 1.2m sq ft of additional space but Stobart wants to double this with a new application.
Andrew Tinkler, chief executive of Stobart, commented: "The continued development of our site at Widnes is in line with Stobart Group's vision to become the UK's leading provider of multimodal transport and logistics solutions.
"Stobart ultimately aims to maximise rail freight opportunities as part of its strategy for the site to reduce road congestion and harmful emissions associated with road transport.
"We are delighted with the support we have received from the NWDA and Halton Borough Council without which this development would not have gone ahead."