Comment from John Downes, Chairman of Parkside Regeneration and Group Chief Executive of Langtree, on the approval of its planning application by St Helens Council.

“It’s been a long road to arrive at this point and, of course, we’re very pleased that the council has acknowledged both the planning and socio-economic merits of our proposals.  The scheme will now go before the Secretary of State for final approval.

“We would hope the government see as clearly as we do the scheme’s value in terms of job creation, the reuse of a key brownfield site and the work that we have been doing with our partners to ensure a job-ready local workforce that can benefit from the thousands of new positions the completed scheme will deliver.

“The site has a very important history. Having started my working life at the colliery in 1976 I am well aware of the key local employment role it played, a place of hard work and community. If we are successful in achieving planning consent for the site now that it has been approved by St Helens Council then we will do everything possible to ensure that we try and respect the colliery’s heritage and to recreate its role as a key site providing strong local employment opportunities.

“It will deliver more than £2m of new rates income each year for the local authority to invest in key public services.  The boost to the St Helens economy will be even more significant, with an additional £80m a year of new output.  Parkside is a genuine game-changer in an area in need of one.

“The economy is changing rapidly and St Helens finds itself in a very strong position to capitalise on this given its location on key roads and motorways and its proximity both to the Port of Liverpool and major population centres.  We have taken a cautious approach to our employment forecasts but even with that we are anticipating 1,330 end-user jobs in this first phase and 457 construction jobs.  Those figures are roughly the total number of jobs on the site when the colliery was at its peak. We hope that this alone is a very compelling argument for the Secretary of State to consider.

“Our focus now is in ensuring that the Secretary of State has everything required to assess our application thoroughly and we await the decision keenly.”