St Helens Council has agreed to contribute part of a £35,000 grant to fund wildlife improvements along the Sankey Valley Corridor.
Back in 2015 the council granted planning permission for up to 324 homes at the former Deacon Trading Estate in Newton-le-Willows, subject to a section 106 legal agreement.
The legal agreement requires the developer of the site to pay the council a total of £239,568, split into four instalments of £59,892.
The money is earmarked for ‘green space improvement works’ on identified ‘green space land’ situated on part of the Sankey Valley Corridor between Common Road and Red Brow Wood.
A total of £179,676 has been paid to the council to date, with the final instalment of £59,892 to be paid prior to the occupation of the 195th home.
Some of the section 106 money was used to fund a new car park off Bradlegh Road, to improve access to the site.
Lancashire Wildlife Trust has received an offer of a grant support from Enovert Community Trust, which distribute Landfill Community Fund Grants, to undertake a project in the Sankey Valley Corridor.
However, the grant is conditional on receiving 10 per cent third party contribution of £3,495, so Lancashire Wildlife Trust has approached the council to seek this provision.
St Helens Council’s planning committee voted to release the section 106 funds for the project.
Coun Seve Gomez-Aspron, chairman of the planning committee, said the Sankey Valley Corridor is as accessible as it ever has been.
The Labour councillor it was a “no-brainer” to spend £3,500 to get £35,000 back to make the site even better.
Coun Gomez-Aspron said: “This part of the North West, I think, is one of the most significant heritage and countryside assets we’ve got.
“You’ve got the bit where the first intercity railway goes over the site of the first industrial canal. Anyone who knows me knows that I love a bit of local history down there.
“It’s fantastic. It is the definition of green belt. It is more than a ploughed field or an open space. The wildlife down there is teeming.
“There’s Kingfisher’s, Herons. The canal supports the aquatic side of things and it’s fantastic.”
The project will aim to deliver a series of environmentally focused works, including the creation, restoration and management of important habitats within the Sankey Valley.
This will include local wildlife sites at Mucky Mountains, grassland south of the tow path /seven arches and Red Brow Woods.
The project will also see the creation of a Sankey Valley wildlife corridor nature trail, which will outline the value of several sites throughout the corridor, highlighting their post-industrial heritage.
A serial of interpretation panels will detail how a legacy of industrial development has shaped the landscape and also created a unique natural asset such as the Mucky Mountains and the canal itself.
Additionally, ecological and environmental information will be assessed an updated, which will include surveys of a wide range of flora and fauna and look to involve the community and schools, helping improve individual and community health and wellbeing.
Melanie Hale, the council’s service manager for development, said the work meets the requirements and definitions within the section 106 agreement and recommended members agree to award the funds.
Members unanimously agreed to award £3,495 to the Lancashire Wildlife Trust to fund the project.