St Helens retail study is ‘vital’

Mark Dickens, head of regeneration at St Helens Council, said a study by consultants WYG Group on the retail offer in Earlestown is vital and will help bring the town back to life.

The council appointed the Leeds-based company last month to assess opportunities which exist to enhance the retail provision in both St Helens and Earlestwon town centres.

Dickens said: "Earlestown market has been an important focal point for Earlestown town centre for many years, attracting visitors from a wide area. However, the market is not immune to the impacts of the current recession.

"With the extensive experience that WYG holds in planning and the knowledge they bring to the table I am confident in their ability to gain the results we need to start identifying the potential improvements that are required to bring Earlestown back to life."

The study involves a comprehensive survey of shoppers and businesses to examine existing trade patterns and to quantify the level of need for additional facilities. A combination of a telephone survey, on-street interviews and a business survey will be undertaken. The retail study also forms a critical part of the evidence base to inform the production of local development framework documents.

Keith Nutter, director at WYG, said: "It is well publicised that town centres across the UK are facing tough times ahead. St Helens and Earlsetown town centres in Merseyside are no exception.

"If the council is to plan positively for the future regeneration of the town centres it is imperative that there is a clear understanding of the current strengths and weaknesses of the centres. Our expertise in gathering this type of evidence will prove invaluable when forming a strategy which will seek to maximise the benefits of any future investment."

The council said it is keen to ensure that Earlestown town centre remains St Helens' second largest retail centre supporting a range of shopping and leisure opportunities with the market playing a key focal role.

WYG said the findings are anticipated to be announced in the summer.

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