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

VINCI Building has been appointed to deliver the initial phase of the town centre regeneration. Credit: Virtual Planit

VINCI bags £91m St Helens regeneration project

The contractor is expected to start work early next year to progress the initial phase of the borough’s large-scale town centre transformation being delivered in partnership with English Cities Fund.

VINCI Building has been appointed to deliver the majority of the £90.7m project, which will regenerate 24 acres of St Helens town centre. The specific details of the contract will be specified following reserved matters approval, with a detailed planning application scheduled for submission this autumn.

St Helens Council 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.

Under the designs by Jon Matthews Architects, the initial phase of work will focus on the footprint of the Hardshaw Shopping Centre, as well as St Helens’ bus and rail station.

VINCI is expected to lead the construction of a new market hall and 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.

Max Bentham, development director at ECF, said: “VINCI Building has the experience and capability to deliver against our goal of a highly sustainable, large-scale transformation of the town.

“This is a hugely ambitious and multi-faceted regeneration project that will leave a lasting positive legacy”, he continued.

“As a partnership, we’re committed to delivering places that are totally authentic to their location, that respect heritage and aspirations for the future, while at the same time providing opportunities for all to thrive and prosper.”

In terms of sustainability, the development is anchored by five key themes: net zero carbon, enhancing biodiversity, the circular economy, social value, and health and wellbeing.

In particular, this initial phase of works is expected to create 485 jobs upon completion and generate £23.2m GVA each year.

Throughout construction, VINCI will partner with St Helens Council and ECF to create a social inclusion programme, which will drive local initiatives such as the Ways to Work scheme. The firm will also connect with St Helens College and local schools to provide employment and training opportunities.

John Roberts, managing director of VINCI, said: “This project allows us to increase our social value commitments and add value within the borough and surrounding Liverpool City Region.

“We look forward to working with the English Cities Fund and St Helens Borough Council and bringing this project to site.”

Cllr David Baines, Leader of St Helens Council, added: “VINCI Building has been given the responsibility of delivering a high-quality and highly sustainable first phase development that, during the build programme, will benefit the people of St Helens through a wide range of social value measures.”

Describing the shared belief that the town centre needs to be brought back to its “former glory”, Baines stated that this means bringing back a sense of its heritage while also future-proofing buildings, public areas, and transport.

“VINCI Building has the experience and capability to help us deliver our vision of a town centre that is child and family-friendly, safe, and sustainable, with thriving places for local businesses, shoppers, visitors, and residents”, he said.

L R Lisa Harris, Gary Hughes, Phil Mayall, Robert Gatensbury, Kath O'Dwyer, Stuart Rogers, Stuart Brown, Cllr David Baines, Cllr Richard McCauley, and Martin Horton, p This Is Influential

From left: Lisa Harris, Gary Hughes, Phil Mayall, Robert Gatensbury, Kath O’Dwyer, Stuart Rogers, Stuart Brown, Cllr David Baines, Cllr Richard McCauley, and Martin Horton. Credit: via Influential

Last week, St Helens Council unanimously approved the release of £69.2m funding at its cabinet meeting to unlock the initial phase of work.

The remaining £21.5m is being provided in the form of government grants and equity investment by ECF. Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has also provided financial support for the extended bus station, while the One Public Estate Brownfield Land Release Fund has awarded £81,000 for the residential element.

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 the initial phase next autumn, to be completed in 2026.

In addition to Jon Matthews, the project team 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.

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