Coal mine in Newton-le-Willows closed in 1993 and now a joint venture between developers Langtree and St Helens Council is aiming to create almost 1m sq ft of new business space. Tony McDonough reports
A former Merseyside coal mine is to be transformed into a logistics and manufacturing hub offering employment for up to 1,300 people.
Parkside Colliery in Newton-le-Willows closed in 1993 and now Parkside Regeneration, the joint venture between developers Langtree and St Helens Council is aiming to create almost 1m sq ft of new business space.
When fully operational, occupiers of the site are anticipated to generate £80m a year in economic activity and to pay £2.2m a year in extra business rates to St Helens Council. The construction phase will also provide employment for more than 400 people.
A planning application will be submitted to the council on Tuesday and the plans also incorporate several junction improvements to the nearby A49.
Parkside says it has made several changes to its original plans in response to an public consultation exercise last year and is confident the scheme will deliver on its promise of of new jobs for the local area.
“The demand for logistics and manufacturing space continues to be very strong and our proposals meet a clear need in the market,” explained John Downes, group managing director of Langtree and chairman of the Parkside Regeneration.
“We are keen to ensure that our investment benefits the local community as much as possible and have put in place arrangements with the Northern Logistics Academy and St Helens Chamber of Commerce to maximise the number of training opportunities for local people and to ensure robust engagement with a local supply chain.”
A new link road in to the site from junction 22 of the M6 was suggested by the public during last year’s consultation and has been carried forward by St Helens Council.
In the 1950s the National Coal Board estimated there was 100m tonnes of coal reserves in six seams close to Newton-le-Willows. Work started in 1957 and the £13m colliery started producing coal in 1964.
At the height of production in the late 1970s and early 1980s Parkside was producing more than 830,000 tonnes of coal a year and employed over 1,700 people. About 60% of the coal went to power stations, especially Fiddlers Ferry, near Widnes.
St Helens Council leader, Barrie Grunewald, added: “This will show us the nature and scale of the opportunity before us to deal with long-term, generational unemployment in St Helens and bring a redundant, brownfield site back in to productive use.”