A COMMUNITY shopping parade that was destroyed by fire will be rebuilt while another that was threatened by structural problems will remain, it has been confirmed.

Bassenthwaite Avenue shops in Moss Bank are to remain open and be repaired whilst Wythburn Crescent shops at Carr Mill are to be rebuilt.

The shops, owned by housing group Torus, provide a much-needed resource for residents, especially older people and those unable to travel to shopping facilities further afield.

However, a succession of issues had put the future of the shops in question.

The parade at Wythburn Crescent were irreparably damaged in late 2018, following an attempted break in which resulted in a fire.

St Helens Star:

The blaze destroyed shops in 2018

Then, in January 2019, a structural issue with the shop parade at Bassenthwaite Avenue was discovered which led to residential tenants in above flats being rehoused.

It was proposed that the shops would be knocked down and rebuilt. A proposal offering business users temporary accommodation was originally being developed and the intention was to use the site of the shops at Wythburn Crescent for temporary shops whilst new shops were constructed at Bassenthwaite Avenue.

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The shops at Bassenthwaite Avenue

More than 1,000 residents were invited to a consultation in Moss Bank and it was clear people depended on both sets of shops.

Teams from Torus were determined to find a solution that would benefit the local community and local businesses alike.

Mike Austin, head of asset management at Torus explained: “We know that the shops are an important focal point in the Moss Bank Community and wanted to find a solution that would benefit local people and shop owners alike.

“We organised further surveys of the existing shop parade at Bassenthwaite Avenue which revealed that the underlying structural issue, caused by the walkway to the maisonettes above the shops, could be resolved if the maisonettes were vacated and the walkway removed. The building would then be structurally sound."

Torus confirmed that despite some disturbance while this work is undertaken to remove the walkway, the shops at Bassenthwaite will be able to remain open for resident.

Michelle Houghton from Tanzania beauty and nail salon said: “This has been a very difficult and unsettling 12 months for all shop owners, with our businesses being hit with a significant downturn in revenue due to the uncertainty of the future of the shops.

“It is now a relief to know that our shops can continue to trade at Bassenthwaite Avenue whilst structural repairs are ongoing and hopefully, with the support of Torus and the Council, we can begin to restore our customer base and make good the damage done to our businesses over the last 12 months.”

St Helens North MP Conor McGinn has welcomed the news, saying: "I am delighted that Torus have listened and responded to the concerns of residents, whether directly expressed, or through the numerous representations made by both Cllr Long and myself over recent months.

“Having worked with local partners, Torus have brought forward proposals to keep the much-valued shops at Wythburn Crescent open, while also creating exciting opportunities to enhance services for local people and shop owners.

“Added to that the commitment to maintaining the shops on Bassenthwaite Avenue, after the removal of the maisonettes above, this is certainly a victory for local people who knew and understood just why these shopping areas were needed by the community.”

Moss Bank councillor Trisha Long added: “This is excellent news for the community. I am incredibly pleased that Torus have listened to the representations of residents, Conor and myself about the importance of these shops to the lives of so many people.”

Torus has engaged architects to draw up plans for each set of shops and work will start once planning permission has been received.