A HISTORIC Pilks site and land around Glass Futures could see investment of up to £500m to transform the areas.

In a Liverpool City Region document that discusses innovation opportunities, it states that two St Helens sites could be reutilised for a "mix of redevelopment, growth, and land development projects".

Pilks' Watson Street glassworks, which have loomed over St Helens since 1826, ceased production for the final time in February, after moving the bulk of its operations to the town's Greengate site on Sutton Heath Road. The site is still being used for storing and dispatching orders.

It is proposed that the glassworks, as well as land around the Glass Futures site, could become a designated 'Investment Zone' and use tax incentives to encourage investment into the area.

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What could happen at the sites?

St Helens Star: Pilks has moved its manufacturing operations from Watson Street to GreengatePilks has moved its manufacturing operations from Watson Street to Greengate (Image: Stock)
Planning to build on St Helens' near 200-year history as a manufacturer and innovator of glassmaking, the LCR document explains that around £500m could be used to "expand its manufacturing and innovation capability".

Following the closure of Pilks glassmaking operations at Watson Street, the document says that St Helens Council and NSG Pilkington will bring forward a masterplan for a "mixed use development" at the 31-acre site.

Not far away from the £90m regeneration plans set to transform St Helens town centre, the document says that Pilks' Watson Street site "has the scope to accommodate residential, research and development, commercial and light industrial uses".

Initial plans suggest that 413 new homes could be constructed alongside 477,000 sq ft of "commercial and industrial floorspace".

St Helens Star: Land around the Glass Futures site is proposed to be developedLand around the Glass Futures site is proposed to be developed (Image: St Helens Star)

At land around the current Glass Futures site, which is being used for glass research, medical glass manufacturing, and decarbonising projects next to Saints stadium, a development named 'Project Halo' could also be launched.

The touted project could bring 300 jobs to the area by constructing "life science laboratories [as well as] innovation, manufacturing and storage space".

These plans are in addition to the work currently ongoing at Glass Futures and at Inovus Medical, which works in surgical and medical technology and recently opened its global HQ at the Peasley Cross site.

While celebrating each site's "unique heritage", the LCR document says that they will "secure a vibrant future legacy by creating 1,000 new jobs and securing £400m of additional economic value to the town".

When will these plans take place?

St Helens Star: A previous CGI of the Glass Futures site, which shows neighbouring land where 'Project Halo' could take placeA previous CGI of the Glass Futures site, which shows neighbouring land where 'Project Halo' could take place (Image: St Helens Council)
At present, the projects are in the very early planning stages and no thorough developments have been proposed.

The LCR document explains that St Helens Council will submit a planning application on both of these projects this year.

The Pilks Watson Street plans are expected to be consulted on towards the end of the summer and will be considered for planning approval towards the end of the year.

A planning application for 'Project Halo' is also expected to be submitted this year, with construction expected to start in 2025/26 if approved. The site aims to attract pre-let occupiers from April 2026.

What is an Investment Zone?

St Helens Star: The sites could used similar tax incentives like ParksideThe sites could used similar tax incentives like Parkside (Image: St Helens Council)
An 'Investment Zone' is a ten-year project launched by the Liverpool City Region, and similar to Freeport sites like Parkside in Newton-le-Willows, will give tax incentives to encourage external investment.

The zones, which include the two St Helens sites, will use government grants to help fund the projects and can offer incentives such as 100% business rate relief, exemptions from Stamp Duty tax and National Insurance contributions, along with other financial benefits.

The areas will also offer customs benefits to businesses that import and export goods.

Similar to Parkside, St Helens Council will also be able to keep business rates from units on the site for the next 25 years.

This will allow the council to pocket up  to £15m but will be ringfenced for specific schemes to further develop the premises' capability.