Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, Michael Gove, has given the go-ahead to a £100m Liverpool city region industrial scheme that could create up to 1,300 jobs. Tony McDonough reports
A £100m industrial development in Liverpool city region that could create more than 1,000 jobs has been given go-ahead by the Government.
In December 2019, St Helens Council granted outline planning permission for the scheme at the former Parkside Colliery in St Helens that would create 1m sq ft of logistics and industrial space.
However, the project was ‘called in’ by the Government and a planning inquiry took place in January. Now the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, Michael Gove, says he will not object to the scheme.
Developer Parkside Regeneration, a joint venture between property firm Langtree and St Helens Council, says the development will unlock hundreds of millions of pounds of new investment.
It claims it could create permanent employment for more than 1,300 people and see almost 500 employed during the construction phase. It is also estimated it will generate £80m a year in new economic output and more than £2m in business rates.
John Downes, chairman of Parkside Regeneration, said: “It’s been a long road, but we got there. I’m delighted that the Secretary of State saw as clearly as we did Parkside’s potential for transformational change and the contribution it will make to re-balancing the borough’s economy.
“Work starts today on what we need to do to get spades in the ground. There’ll be lots going on behind the scenes that people won’t see, but we’ve already pushed the ‘go’ button.
“This is very personal to me. I started my career at Parkside as a 16-year-old and it brings that journey full circle. At its peak the colliery employed more than 2,000 people and to be able to replace that lost work is hugely satisfying.
“The economy is changing rapidly as we adjust to a post-pandemic world and the site will provide options for logistics and manufacturing employers that will bring well-paid technical work to the whole of St Helens borough. The potential to capitalise on and support Liverpool Freeport’s growth is particularly noteworthy.”
Parkside Colliery was operated by British Coal. It was opened in 1957 and closed in 1993 and was the last deep coal mine operating in what was known as the Lancashire Coalfield. Anne Scargill, the then wife of former National Union of Mineworkers president, Arthur Scargill, led a four-day occupy protest against the closure.
Parkside Regeneration board member and leader of St Helens Council, David Baines, added: “It is a site of local, regional and national significance, and with the opportunity to be a key part of the Freeport plans for Liverpool city region it has the potential to be of international significance too.
“St Helens Council is fully committed to doing everything we can to help attract investment and new job opportunities to the borough, and Parkside is the perfect example of this.
“For communities in Newton-le-Willows in need of jobs and investment this is especially good news. We’ve fought for this for a long time, and now the right decision has at last been made I’m looking forward to seeing work begin on site as quickly as possible.”