Skelmersdale town centre regeneration secures funding

West Lancashire Borough Council, St Modwen, and Homes England have agreed a funding deal to deliver the £19m first phase of the regeneration of Skelmersdale town centre.

At a council meeting on 18 July, the council agreed to invest in the scheme to enable delivery of the first phase, which is expected to start in early 2019 with an 18 month build programme.

This will include a 20,800 sq ft Lidl store, and a 20,000 sq ft B&M, as well as further units, for a total of 50,000 sq ft of retail space.

The first phase is expected to cost £19m and is being funded by the council, along with a contribution from Homes England, while St Modwen will act as designer and developer.

The council hopes the first phase will act as a catalyst for further private sector investment for later phases, which will include a number of serviced development plots for a variety of uses.

The second phase will also feature 50,000 sq ft of leisure and restaurants, including a cinema due to be operated by Reel.

Once delivered, the council said around £8m additional customer spend would be brought to Skelmersdale each year, with an estimated 70 permanent jobs and 240 construction jobs created.

John Harrison, director of development and regeneration, said: “The council has long been committed to the delivery of an enlarged town centre for Skelmersdale incorporating new retail and leisure development.

“This retail scheme, along with the adjacent new leisure and wellbeing facilities forms part of a major investment programme by the council and its partners in Skelmersdale.

“In addition, residential development is soon to start on sites located immediately adjacent to the town centre. This is a really positive time for Skelmersdale and the Council and its partners will now be working to put in place the necessary agreements to secure commencement of the new retail development as quickly as possible.”

Planning permission was granted for the project in March 2015, but it has been subject to a series of legal challenges by Skelmersdale Limited Partnership, which planned to bring forward a rival leisure scheme.

SLP was granted planning permission in 2014 for a £4m leisure extension to the centre, with restaurants and a 20,000 sq ft cinema.

The partnership took legal action when West Lancashire Council then gave approval to a nearby 100,000 sq ft retail and leisure project by St Modwen, which LCP felt threatened the viability of the its project.

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This is the opposite of Town Center Regeneration. This is merely the building of more shops and eateries and car parking to duplicate or rather replace existing shops and eateries and car parking.(I hope the council does not forget to invest in new waste bins and new toilets for the physical and human leftovers)

By James Yates

This is a good start for Skem to get things moving in the right direction. 1960s planning brought lots of issues that can only be resolved bit by bit. A modern town centre at ground level integrating with the wider town and providing community and leisure facilities as well as retail is what’s needed. I’m really pleased things are getting moving for the town. I’ll certainly be checking it out.

By Hightown

I grew up in the town as it was built between 1963 and 1975- a whole town and infrastructure planned built occupied in 12 years. Ok so with issues.

The point I’m making is that this much needed added investment has been at the “planning stage” for what seems like an eternity- it must be approaching 10 years….and it’s not started on site yet.

I’m afraid after all that planning it still looks dreadful.

Hoping to be proved wrong.

By Stephen Gleave

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