The council is to spend a £1m Government grant demolishing Chalon Way multistorey car park as a “statement of intent” to progress the town’s future regeneration.
St Helens’ cabinet members approved the measure on Wednesday. The grant will come from the Town Deal Accelerated Fund and must be spent by the end of March 2021, which limited the options for allocating the money.
A further £25m bid to the Town Deal Fund is expected to follow. Details of how this would be spent were not put to the cabinet yesterday.
Lisa Harris, executive director of place at St Helens Council, told the cabinet the 700-space multistorey car park was a “barrier to the town centre and conceals the canal, which is a key feature in the town’s heritage”. The demolition would create a development opportunity that could enhance the area. In the interim, it could provide a platform for other ‘meanwhile uses’.
The future use of the car park will be set out in a town centre masterplan currently under development and due to go to public consultation later this year.
A study of car parking in the town found that there was sufficient capacity in other town centre car parks to allow for displacement from Chalon Way.
The council chose the demolition project as it was deliverable within the timescale. Other options considered were increased CCTV and improvements to the council’s Victorian Gamble building, but these would have taken too long.
Also approved by the cabinet was another £1m grant to be drawn down from the Liverpool City Region Town Centre Fund. This was originally planned to be used to subsidise the occupation of vacant units. However, the council decided it is better to support existing businesses.
The £1m will now be split into seven projects, the largest of which is £500,000 for small business grants of £5,000 each to support businesses as they attempt to continue to trade. The other projects include place marketing, business hubs in St Helens and Earlestown centres and town centre animation. This second million pounds must be spent by October 2021.