ST HELENS Council’s planning committee has voted unanimously to grant permission for the demolition of the former Parr Stocks fire station and creation of homes at the site.

Chris Jones, of developers Gradan Homes, had submitted plans to create houses and apartments at the site in 2021.

The former St Helens Community Fire Station closed as part of a merger for the new "super station" which opened at the former Pilkington land off Milverny Way.

The building had been placed up for sale in 2020 but this was delayed so the site could be used as a COVID-19 testing centre during the pandemic.

Head of planning at St Helens Council Kieran Birch told the committee on Tuesday evening that the application had been “amended” and the number of homes in the development reduced to 40.

“The application didn’t receive any objections but has been brought to committee because of the significant development and given the site’s prominent location,” he said.

“It’s a brownfield site and a settlement in a sustainable location and what’s proposed is housing, that’s acceptable in principle to officers.”

READ > Developer submits amended plans for 180 homes 

He added: “Officers consider it a high quality scheme and providing a safe and quality environment for people that live there.”

Mr Birch said the application had taken “so long” to reach the committee because of an issue over a “hydrogen sulphide odour” in the vicinity in the nearby brook which had been “addressed”.

“An odour assessment and a sniff test has been carried out and that information has been considered by the council’s air quality officer and they now raise no objections”.

Mr Birch added: “It’s a good quality scheme on a brownfield site” and recommended to the committee that the plans be approved.

St Helens Star: A graphic of one of the house types in the plans Picture: Lawrenson Associates (St Helens Council Planning Portal)A graphic of one of the house types in the plans Picture: Lawrenson Associates (St Helens Council Planning Portal)

Addressing the committee, applicant Chris Jones said: “I’m a local resident and a property developer, I’ve been an active member on the Town Board Deal and the St Helens Ambassador Scheme and I’ve got a valid passion for St Helens.

“We’ve done quite a lot of developments in the Parr area and we’re hoping that we can carry on the development and investment.”

He said the application is “a mix of one and two-bed apartments and some of the larger houses.

“We’ve been speaking to different members of the council and there seems to be a lack of larger properties for foster people so we are hoping that some of the four and five beds can go to local foster parents.”  

Mr Jones added: “We are trying to create a community scheme where it’s not just an estate of three-bed semi-detached and the construction team are from St Helens.”

Mr Jones also said they were speaking to the North West Museum of Transport over preserving some of the fire doors from the station.  

St Helens Star: One of the apartment types Picture: Lawrenson Associates (St Helens Council Planning Portal)One of the apartment types Picture: Lawrenson Associates (St Helens Council Planning Portal)

Committee member Cllr Andy Bowden said: “I welcome this application, it brings a site that is no longer in use back into use and provides some of the much-needed housing we need across the borough.”

Cllr Richard McCauley said: “It’s been quite a long journey with this site. This is one of the most deprived areas of the borough. I think it’s a fantastic scheme.

“I’m happy that we’re improving the stock in that area and that brownfield first approach, but not just put anything on there, we want quality.”

Cllr Anne McCormack added: “I think it’s a good use of the land available and will enhance the whole of that area.”

Committee chair Cllr Seve Gomez-Aspron made a suggestion for a condition be added for a stone crest above the door be retained and made into a feature at the site.

Members voted to unanimously approve the plans.