Pair of St Helens masterplans to be rubber stamped 

English Cities Fund’s 20-year development visions for St Helens and Earlestown are to be adopted next week following a period of public consultation. 

St Helens Council’s cabinet is recommended to approve the masterplans and give the green light for compulsory purchase powers to be used in order to facilitate site assembly. 

Lexington carried out the public consultation exercise, which found that 88% of respondents were supportive of the St Helens proposals, while only 6% did not express support for the Earlestown vision. 

The proposals for St Helens town centre:  

  • Reducing the oversupply of shopping centres that over-dominate the built form and creating smaller modern retail properties  
  • Introducing a mix of new uses including food and drink, commercial, residential  
  • Improving and enhancing the night-time economy and broadening the overall leisure offer  
  • Establishing a quality town centre living offer. 
St Helens Regen 1, ECF, P.St Helens Council

A 50,000 sq ft office and a 120-bedroom hotel feature in plans for St Helens. Credit: via Lexington

The key opportunities in St Helens include:  

  • Building townhouses fronting Hall Street  
  • A new market hall occupying the corner of Church Street and Hall Street  
  • Demolition of the existing Hardshaw Shopping Centre on Bickerstaffe Street and creation of a new mixed-use development featuring 50,000 sq ft of offices and a 120-bedroom hotel  
  • A redesigned bus station  
  • The demolition of St Mary’s Shopping Centre to make way for residential development  
  • The creation of a town centre park on Chalon Way, which will be closed off to traffic. 

A planning application for phase one of the project, which includes the hotel, offices, bus station and market hall, is expected in early 2022.  

Subject to planning approval, phase one could complete in winter 2025. 

The key opportunities in Earlstown include:  

  • Decluttering and enlivening Market Street and Market Square, described as  “the jewel in the crown” of Earlestown town centre  
  • Repurposing the vacant town hall  
  • Creation of a new police station and multi-model transport interchange  
  • Delivery of new homes.   
Earlstown Regen, ECF, P.St Helens Council

Improvements to public realm feature heavily in both plans. Credit: via Lexington

Land to the south of the train station off Sunbeam and Old Wargrave Road, and the current bus station site have been identified for potential redevelopment into housing.  

St Helens Council and development consortium English Cities Fund signed a 20-year development agreement in 2020. 

The plans for St Helens and Earlstown, which have been drawn up alongside Jon Matthews Architects, CBRE, WSP and Planit IE, are the latest long-term development strategies to be progressed up by ECF. 

ECF, a partnership between Muse Developments, Legal & General and Homes England, is also delivering regeneration projects in Salford, Plymouth and Wakefield. 

Your Comments

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Let’s be really honest here…this is not masterplanning of a town centre. It’s a basic drop and re-build of a hulking 1980s shopping mall that’s already 20 years past its best, a new market hall, some residential, a tart up of the forbidding bus station and a new play area.

What about improving the appalling impermeability and dislocation of the town centre sectors?

What about improving access to Central Station which has always felt so cut off from the town centre?

What is the proposal to create a clear and defined focal point to the town centre, which it has been lacking for 70 years?

These proposals have the feel of a Year 11 Geography project.

St. Helens MBC don’t have the vision or leadership to move the town forward, and hence will sign anything off.

By Peasley Cross

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