Market Street view of reimagined St Helens town centre, ECF and St Helens Council, c Virtual Planit

Proposals for St Helens town centre include a hotel and extended bus station. Credit: Virtual Planit

Unanimous approval for £69m St Helens town centre investment

Funding has unlocked the initial phase of the borough’s large-scale regeneration initiative being delivered in partnership with English Cities Fund.

St Helens Council unanimously approved the release of £69.2m funding at its cabinet meeting on Wednesday to progress the development of the town centre.

The authority is working with ECF, a joint venture between Muse, Legal & General, and Homes England, on the regeneration project. The JV was appointed as the council’s preferred strategic partner in March 2020 to deliver comprehensive regeneration and economic growth in the borough.

Due to significant inflation, the wider town centre has been split into two phases – phase 1A and 1B.

Under the designs by Jon Matthews Architects, phase 1A focuses on the footprint of the Hardshaw Shopping Centre, as well as St Helens’ bus and rail station.

Proposals feature a new market hall and an extended bus station, as well as a 120-bedroom hotel, 64 homes, and 11,000 sq ft of retail space, all linked together by public realm improvements.

Subject to acquiring funding and occupiers, phase 1B would provide offices and the redevelopment of the former Marks and Spencer building off Church Street.

Cllr David Baines, Leader of St Helens Council, said: “The investment demonstrates the absolute focus the council has on delivery against agreed priorities, listening to our communities, and getting on with the job.

“What we have before us now is a long-awaited and much needed town centre transformation, one that will act as a catalyst for wider investment and regeneration”, he continued.

“We have consulted widely, and market tested the best ideas for our area – all the while taking great care to ensure that ‘St Helensness’ is retained in the look and feel of everything we deliver.”

The initial scheme forms the centerpiece of the St Helens Town Investment Plan, adopted by the council’s cabinet last February.

ECF was granted planning permission to demolish the Hardshaw Shopping Centre last September, along with St Mary’s Shopping Arcade, market, and multi-storey car park, the Swan Hotel, and a series of retail units between Bickerstaffe Street, the bus station, and Corporation Street.

The council has set out a timeline with hopes to commence the demolition of Hardshaw next spring and start construction on phase 1A next autumn, to be completed in 2026.

From left: Lisa Harris, Cllr Richard McCauley, Kathy O’Dwyer, Phil Mayall, Cllr David Baines, and Stuart Rogers. Credit: Bernard Platt

It is hoped that these developments will “collectively act as a catalyst for the necessary radical transformation of St Helens town centre and improve the viability for delivery of future phased initiatives”, according to a council report.

Max Bentham, development director for ECF, said: “The scale of phase one will bring radical change for the better for the people of St Helens and help the town thrive again.

“We are delighted to be progressing and grateful for the input from the Council on a delivery strategy that helps mitigate the challenges posed by inflation, which are being felt everywhere.”

In addition to Jon Matthews, the project team for phase 1A includes planner CBRE, landscape architect Planit-IE, transport consultant WSP, and consultation expert Lexington.

Hilson Moran is providing energy, sustainability, utilities, air quality, land contamination, flood risk, wind, and noise consulting services.

TEP is the project’s consultant for arboriculture, ecology, biodiversity net gain, and heritage.

Faithful+Gould is the cost consultant and Arcadis is the contract administrator for the scheme. Heyne Tillett Steel is the civil and structural engineer.

DFC is the fire engineer, Cundall is the sustainability consultant, and Project Four is the CDM and Building Safety Act expert. Powers is the land surveyor.

Want to learn more about the masterplan? Search for application number P/2022/0212/HYBR on St Helens Council’s planning portal.

The reserved matters planning submission for the initial phase of the development is scheduled for submission this month.

Your Comments

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I think it’s waste of money

By James o neill

Lots of consultants =lots of money

By Anonymous

Dreadful. This council does not have the ability to deliver a successful transformation. Thank goodness I no longer reside in St Helens.

By Former resident

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