PLANS to reopen a library in the Gamble building and ensure the site also becomes a thriving community hub are included in a new bid for Levelling Up Funding from the Government.

St Helens Borough Council will submit two bids to support its town centre regeneration plans for St Helens and Earlestown following cabinet approval this week.

The bids for the Levelling Up Fund round 2 will seek funding of up to £40million to be shared across St Helens North and St Helens South and Whiston Parliamentary constituencies.

The council secured £25m following a successful Town Deal bid last year and detailed business plans for various projects are being designed.

READ> Government gives green light for St Helens Council Town Deal plans

The latest applications will be split into two bids between parliamentary constituencies.

The council says the projects outlined in the applications for funding will go ahead even if it doesn't secure the money, as it has plans in place with its regeneration delivery partner the English Cities Fund.

However, if Government money is obtained it would accelerate the schemes.

The St Helens bid - what it involves

St Helens town centre falls within the St Helens South and Whiston Parliamentary Constituency.

Where a constituency area crosses local authority boundaries, each local authority can choose to submit a joint or individual bid for the area.

St Helens Council believes there is a strong case for a "cross-boundary bid which fits within the investment themes set out in the prospectus".

It adds: "St Helens and Prescot Town Centres have many historic, cultural, and industrial connections and there are synergies in terms of crossborder economic activity, residential catchment, and provision of local retail and services." 


Key to the St Helens bid will a focus on supporting restoring the Gamble building, bringing it back into use as library and introducing other sustainable uses so it becomes "a thriving community hub in the heart of the town centre".

A major project to repair the exterior of the building is ongoing but more funds are needed to modernise its interior and make it fit for purpose for the future.  

The Earlestown bid - what it involves

In Earlestown the £20million bid will focus on three key projects building on the council's vision outlined in the Earlestown Masterplan Development Framework.

This will include the revitalisation of market square, new market canopy and enhanced public realm plan.

The plans will aim to bring back vitality to the traditional market town, attract activity into the heart of the town centre and increase its usage outside of the current market day programme.

In a statement, the council funding would also help to support the restoration of Earlestown Town Hall and bring the Grade II listed building back into public use once again with development plans for its future in progress.    

A third project to benefit would be Earlestown Rail Station which "is regarded as having the oldest railway station building in the world".

St Helens Star: Earlestown Town HallEarlestown Town Hall

The bid will support, improving access to the station, bringing the original grade II listed building back into use and improving its connectivity to the town centre through better entrance and signage.   

A council statement read: "The aim of all of these projects is to bring vitality and activity into the heart of the town centre and increase its usage outside of the current market day programme."

What St Helens Council is saying

Councillor Richard McCauley, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning, said: “We are committed to delivering our transformational Earlestown and St Helens Town Centre Masterplan Frameworks improving the residents lives and delivering on commitments made to retaining our historic buildings, safeguarding future use as outlined in our Borough Strategy.

"The Gamble and Earlestown town hall will be a key part of this.

"The second round of the Levelling Up Fund is a great opportunity for us to look for funding to help towards these projects, alongside our Town Deal Investment Plan as a way to support turning our vision into a reality.

"These proposals not only look at how we can reshape the town centre spaces but also look to preserve much-loved heritage sites which we know our residents are keen to see restored to their former glory from our recent consultation.    

“Whether we get the funding or not through we will still achieve our ambitions and having a delivery partner in place for much of the projects through our partnership with English Cities Fund, but if successful it will help us to accelerate the delivery of the transformation.

"Once our MPs have backed the bids we will be submitting them to Government.”

What will happen next

The plans approved by the council's cabinet will be submitted to be assessed by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.