St Modwen revives hopes for Skelmersdale

St Modwen said it plans to kick-start its Skelmersdale town centre redevelopment later this year.

The developer published plans for 500,000 sq ft of retail and leisure for consultation in 2008 but a planning application expected in autumn 2009 did not materialise. In November 2009, the rejection of Tesco/Everton FC's plans for neighbouring Kirkby cleared the way for St Modwen to resume discussions with the Homes & Communities Agency and West Lancashire Council.

West Lancs appointed St Modwen preferred developer on a 250-acre site that will deliver 250,000 sq ft of core retail, a 100,000 sq ft out-of-town retail park, a 90,000 sq ft food store and 20,000 sq ft cinema. Plans in 2008 also included 1,150 homes, 10% of which will be so-called affordable units. It remains to be seen if the housing element has remained in tact, given the market.

In a statement to accompany the company's first-half results, Michelle Taylor, North West regional director of St Modwen, said: "Later this year we anticipate that we will bring forward a retail and leisure development in Skelmersdale town centre. This will deliver the first stage of the 15-year vision which we have developed in partnership with West Lancashire District Council and the Homes & Communities Agency."

In the six months to the end of May the group returned to profit, with £26.7m pre-tax profit produced, compared to a loss of £98.3m in the same period a year ealier.

Net assets increased by 6.8% to 214p/share against 30 November 2009. There was also a resumption of dividends, with an interim payment of 1p a share.

No further details were available for the Skelmersdale plans. On other North West developments, Taylor added: "The first half of 2010 has seen us make a number of important strides in the delivery of the most significant developments in our region.

"We have started on site at our 75,000 sq ft office and retail development Etrop Court in Wythenshawe. We are delighted to have secured a forward sale of the development which will bring in over 500 jobs into the town centre.

"Having secured Sainsbury's as the anchor tenant, we are looking forward to being able to press ahead with land assembly at Great Homer Street in Liverpool. This will deliver a major new district centre which will become a catalyst for the regeneration of the whole of north Liverpool.

"At Connah's Quay, North Wales, building work will be completed in August on the new retail centre anchored by Morrisons.

"Given the difficult economic climate it has been a productive first half of the year. For the next six months and beyond, we will remain focused on continuing to deliver real change in the neighbourhoods in which we operate."

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