The leader of St Helens Council has reiterated Labour’s commitment to regenerating the former Parkside Colliery in Newton-le-Willows.
On Wednesday, the council’s cabinet endorsed the progress made to date with the Parkside Link Road project and approved the continuation of the scheme through pre-construction and delivery.
The project is part of wider plans to regenerate the Parkside site, with council chiefs believing the improved access will pave the way for major employment opportunities.
The Parkside Link Road scheme will see the construction of a new road from the former Parkside Colliery to Winwick Lane, adjacent to Junction 22 of the M6 motorway, by-passing congestion at Winwick.
According to new cabinet report, the total scheme value is £39.8 million, with the project now at a point where the council is confident it will be delivered within the budget.
A £24 million grant for the scheme was secured via Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Single Investment Fund (SIF) last October.
St Helens Council will also contribute £6.2 million from capital receipts, with a private sector contribution providing the balance.
Addressing cabinet, St Helens Council leader David Baines welcomed the progress made on the scheme to date.
Coun Baines said: “Not only is this a symbol of what we get as part of our membership of the City Region.
“We get access to funding opportunities and support like this that we don’t get from central government.
“We’re able to make these decisions more locally with more influence.
“It also shows that, as a Labour council we’re fully committed to the regeneration of the Parkside site and to the jobs and investment it will subsequently bring.
“We’re committed to the link road and we hope to bring plans to both to planning committee before the end of the year.”
Planning applications are due to be heard St Helens Council and Warrington Borough Council on December 3 and 4, 2019, respectively.
Coun Richard McCauley, cabinet member for economic regeneration and housing, said construction should start on the link road in spring 2020, subject to both planning applications being approved.
“The approval of planning would release the final stage of contract works, which are at the point of reaching final costing,” Coun McCauley said.
“The report details the excellent progress made both technically and financially.
“Should it ultimately be approved, it will bring significant benefits in terms of employment but also in terms of the efficiency of the road network.”
Coun McCauley said the link road would “dovetail” in other improvements being made to the road networks locally, namely the M6 smart motorway and the M6 Junction 22 upgrade.
He also criticised the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, accusing them of putting up “barriers” to obstruct Labour’s Parkside plans in the past.
“We have long fought for this as a Labour council,” Coun McCauley said.
“In contrast, the Lib Dems and the Tories have consistently put barriers against this proposal.”
Speaking after the meeting, Allan Jones said those Tory councillors who opposed Parkside are no longer on the council.
Coun Jones said: “Conservative councillors in the past have opposed it and this was long before a link road was suggested.
“We have to look at all possibilities before we made a decision, but we must take into account the views of the people of Newton-le-Willows.”
St Helens Liberal Democrat group leader Teresa Sims said: “The Liberal Democrat group’s view was that development on the footprint of the former colliery site may be acceptable, but any additional encroachment onto green belt land would not.”