PROPOSALS for a new 'pocket park' on open space and a walking and cycling path have been given the green light as part of a pioneering community-led project.

At Tuesday evening's planning committee held at St Helens Town Hall, applications - submitted by the local highway authority - were decided on for the construction of a pocket park facility on grassland close to Cooper Street, as well as the installation of a shared footway and cycleway on the edge of Bishop Road Playing Fields.

St Helens Star: A CGI of the cycle and footpath at Bishop Road Playing FieldsA CGI of the cycle and footpath at Bishop Road Playing Fields (Image: St Helens Council)
Plans came following a series of extensive community engagements that invited residents to "reimagine" their streets as part of the By Ours Cowley Hill Liveable Neighbourhood Project.

READ > Development to bring open market and shared ownership housing

The pocket park will feature a path that will provide access from Cooper Street to Middlehurst Avenue, running north to south through the site – along with the installation of lighting; a litter bin and cycle parking.

St Helens Star: The open space, off Cooper StreetThe open space, off Cooper Street (Image: St Helens Council)

Also, a total of 13 trees will be planted alongside the path and boundaries of the site with Cooper Street and Chapel Street to complete the makeup of the pocket park, which will have the grade-II listed St Mary's Lowe House Church as a backdrop.

Meanwhile, the council says Rivington Primary School gave its support for the new shared use footway and cycleway facility through Bishop Road Playing Field, from Elderflower Road to Bishop Road, which will enable pupils to walk or cycle to school and support 'Bikeability' lessons, with the path also helping to reduce traffic congestion at drop-off and pick-up times.

St Helens Star: A graphic of the 'pocket park'A graphic of the 'pocket park' (Image: St Helens Council)

Work on Bishop Road Playing Fields will also include the installation of two litter bins; lighting columns, tree planting and a cycle parking area.

The pocket park and active travel route are two of five overall infrastructure improvements that form part of the Liveable Neighbourhood Project, with other plans including:

  •  A signalised pedestrian crossing on Duke Street, to the west of Hamer Street
  •  Footway accessibility improvements across a west-east corridor from Bishop Road to North Road, with dropped kerbs
  • Junction improvements involving the provision of raised junction tables incorporating uncontrolled pedestrian crossing facilities. These also act as vertical traffic calming features. The five junctions are: Bishop Road/Wynne Road; Wynne Road/Cowley Hill Lane; Cowley Hill Lane/Windle Street; Windle Street/Stanhope Street/Morello Close and Windle Street/North Road/Lord Street

Welcoming approval of the applications, Cllr Seve Gomez-Aspron, deputy leader of St Helens Borough Council and cabinet member for strategic transport, said:  “The most important duty of a councillor is to listen to residents so there’s no greater satisfaction as a member of the planning committee and cabinet member for transport and highways - which the vast majority of the liveable neighbourhood improvements come under - than to approve applications like this that the public have been involved in to improve their community. 

"Council officers have listened throughout engagement and considered the views and concerns of residents and made amendments to the final designs for delivery.

 “By Ours Cowley Hill Liveable Neighbourhood has proven to be a very useful initiative for us to gain a better understanding of what residents and businesses think of the areas where they live, visit, work or go to school and the final proposals, two of which we’ve approved at planning, align with most of our main council priorities of promoting good health, creating strong, safe communities and a well-connected economy – as well creating green and vibrant places we can all be proud of.”

As an area linked to developments, several schools and within walking distance of St Helens town centre, Cowley Hill was chosen as the location for the liveable neighbourhood, with the council securing funding from the Department for Transport (DfT) and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to progress the project.

Meanwhile, schemes that are an integral part of the By Ours Cowley Hill Liveable Neighbourhood project, but do not require planning approval, will commence with the accessibility improvements in April. These works will be followed by the signalised puffin crossing and traffic calming features, with the entire project expected to be completed by the autumn, the council says.