ECF submits plans for £30m market transformation

Plans are submitted for the £30m transformation of a Liverpool city region Victorian market, town square and Grade II-listed town hall. Tony McDonough reports

St Helens
Image of the proposed transformation of St Helens market and town square


St Helens is home to the oldest working market in the country and it is set to be transformed as part of a £30m regeneration project in the town centre.

ECF (formerly English Cities Fund) and St Helens Council have submitted a reserved matters planning application for its plan for a new permanent canopy for the market and an upgrade of the town square.

This will be followed by a full planning application as well as a Listed Building Consent application for the refurbishment and repurposing of Earlestown’s Grade II-listed town hall.

There has been a market in the town centre since the early 1840s with an indoor market hall built in 1851. Under the new plans the existing market will have a permanent canopy inspired by the Sankey Viaduct landmark.

It will provide sheltered trading space to support and grow Earlestown’s historic market long into the future and provide an attractive and flexible space to host events all year round.

Market Square will be transformed with quality paving and seating areas, family-friendly features and public art, complemented by planting and trees to soften the space, increase biodiversity, and offer shade during the summer months.

One refurbished, the town hall will be reopened to the public with community meeting rooms, event space, flexible workspaces and a new courtyard garden and café. Its main hall will be brought back to life as a performance and events space.

A range of public realm improvements will also be delivered, making the town centre more pedestrian and cycle-friendly, and upgrading key high streets.

These plans are being supported by a £20m grant from Round 2 of the Government’s Levelling Up Fund (LUF) with £8m match funding provided by St Helens Council, and are being brought forward by ECF.

The submission follows a public consultation at the end of 2023, which drew more than 240 people to public exhibitions and feedback sessions across Earlestown, Newton-le-Willows and Wargrave.

Responses demonstrated high levels of support for each individual aspect of the proposals. This included 80% of people stating that they were in favour of the proposed new market canopy and 84% being supportive of plans for the town hall.


St Helens
Transforming the market, square and town hall will cost £30m


Cllr David Baines, leader of St Helens Council, said: “The positive feedback received through the public consultation affirms that our local communities in and around Earlestown are keen for positive change to begin.

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“The stunning designs for Earlestown reflect our ambitions to invest in and improve our town centres and infrastructure across the borough in a way that celebrates and builds on local character and qualities.

“In Earlestown, the proposals for a much more attractive, family-friendly and flexible Market Square and a fully restored and reopened Town Hall community hub, will help to deliver the diverse, vibrant town centre residents and local businesses deserve.”

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