St Helens Council misses out on share of £95m aimed at regenerating struggling high streets

A bid was put in for cash for Earlestown.
A bid was put in for cash for Earlestown.

St Helens Council has expressed “disappointment” after failing to secure money for Earlestown from a £95 million government fund aimed at regenerating struggling high streets.

In total, 69 towns and cities from across the country will receive money, which will be used to turn empty and underused buildings into creative spaces, offices, retail outlets and housing.

The government say the cash injection will help support wider regeneration in the successful areas by attracting future commercial investment.

Of the £95 million, the North West will receive £18.7 million.

Surrounding areas including Prescot, Ormskirk and Wigan will all receive some of the cash.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service can confirm a bid was put in for Earlestown.

In response to missing out on the fund, St Helens Council leader David Baines said Ministers have “hugely underestimated” the need for investment in towns and cities across the country.

Coun Baines said: “We should all be disappointed to miss out on this funding, but St Helens is far from alone in not getting the help we need from central government.

“With over 200 councils putting themselves forward for funding and only 69 being successful, it’s clear that Ministers in Whitehall have hugely underestimated the need for this kind of investment in towns and cities across the country.”

The news comes after St Helens was named as one of 100 places invited to develop proposals that could see it secure up to £25 million from the government’s £3.6 billion Towns Fund.

Coun Baines added: “While we await further detailed feedback on this application, residents will know that we are pressing on with ambitious bids to secure up to £25 million from the Towns Fund, for which St Helens has been successfully shortlisted, and the Liverpool City Region’s £6 million Town Centre Fund.”

The council’s failure to secure any money from the £95 million heritage fund is the latest blow in Labour’s promised regeneration of Earlestown town centre.

In April, former council leader Derek Long pledged that Labour will invest in Earlestown town hall and bring it back into public use “in the coming years”.

This coupled with promised of a “major capital investment” on the Gamble Building prompted accusations from opposition councillors of electioneering.

Then in July the council learnt St Helens and Earlestown were not included in the 51 shortlisted areas in line for a slice of the £675 million Future High Street Fund.

The government launched the Future High Street Fund in late 2018 with the aim of revitalising the nation’s high streets.

The 51 shortlisted areas include the North West towns of Wigan, Crewe, Winsford, Oldham and Stockport.

In July it was confirmed that £1m from the Liverpool City Region’s £6 million Town Centre Fund would go to St Helens and Earslestown.

Other funding that has gone towards the regeneration of Earlestown town centre is £90,000 from the government’s One Public Estate programme.

The money was to fund feasibility studies for the area’s regeneration.