Inspector rules in favour of St Helens CPO
The demolition of The Swan pub off Corporation Street is a nearly done deal after the Planning Inspectorate sided with the local authority on its ability to use compulsory purchase powers to push through its regeneration plans.
St Helens Council and English Cities Fund have joined forces to deliver the regen scheme, which focuses on 24 acres in the town centre of St Helens. The project will see the razing of a series of buildings to make way for a market hall, 120-bedroom hotel, 64 homes, nearly 11,000 sq ft of retail and an improved and extended bus station.
The Swan Pub sits within the borders of the project and has been the focal point of objections to the council’s use of CPO powers.
Swan Pub proprietor Angela Hindley, her family, pub owner Punch Partnerships, and Merseytravel had objected to the CPO, which the council had approved in December. This led to a public inquiry with the Planning Inspectorate, which was held on 8 August.
By the time the inquiry rolled around, however, all of those opposing the project – with the exception of Punch Partnerships – had come to an agreement with the council and withdrawn their objections.
The inspector did not deliberate for long either, reaching a decision roughly two weeks after the inquiry was held.
Cllr David Baines, Leader of St Helens Council, welcomed the inspector’s decision.
“Everyone in the borough wants to see our town centres regenerated so that they are places we can all be proud of, and the council is committed to delivering this change with an ambitious once-in-a-lifetime plan,” he said. “We have the right partners on board and the determination to carry it through.”
“With the independent planning inspector’s confirmation that we may use compulsory purchase powers where agreements can’t be reached – which will always be our first priority – we can now move forward with confidence,” Baines said.
A spokesperson for ECF emphasised that the developer is still trying to negotiate an agreement with Punch Partnerships.
They also added that they were pleased with the progress made on the regeneration project thus far.
“We have outline planning permission and will now make a more detailed reserved matters application in September,” the spokesperson said. “The CPO hearing featured a strong representation from our regeneration partnership, and we are satisfied that the outcome allows us to progress.”
Jon Matthews Architects is the architect of the St Helens masterplan for ECF and the council. Planit-IE is the landscape architect and CBRE is leading the planning process.
The project team also includes M&E engineer Hilson Moran, civil and structural engineer Heyne Tillet Steel, surveyor Powers, sustainability consultant Cundall, highways engineer WSP, project manager Arcadis, cost consultant Faithful+Gould, and Design Fire Consultants.