PARTS of St Helens town centre are braced for a “wrecking ball” ahead of the ambitious regeneration plans for the area, a key council meeting was told.

Pre-construction work is set to take place to pave the way for the ambitious proposals.

A report on the town centre regeneration programme, for the phase 1A “enabling works”, came before the council’s cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday.

Cllr Martin Bond, cabinet member for finance and governance, said: “What I think this report shows is we’re right at the cusp of people seeing the wrecking ball, and that’s because it takes so long to get here unfortunately, but that just protects public money.

“This report shows to me how important City Region funding is in what we’re doing now, and I think that going forward is going to be ever more critical.

CGI images show how part of St Helens town centre could be transformed by phase one of the regeneration masterplan (Image: St Helens Council/ECF)

“That’s the way that local government is moving, in terms of big organisations with synergies and all the kind of economies of scale that brings, but also being able to fund massive projects like this, or assist us for a massive project like this.

“It’s a complicated jigsaw in terms of getting the finance together and how we do it but we’ve made that commitment.

“We’re now right on the edge of that beginning to happen, and people [will] stop seeing reports in newspapers and reports on social media, and seeing the action being taken.”

Cllr Richard McCauley, cabinet member for inclusive growth and regeneration, said “we’ve got all our ducks in a row and we’re ready to go with this”.

He also stated that he would “imagine” that the “wrecking ball” will be out at the “back end of the year, early into the new year”.

As recommended, the cabinet delegated authority to the executive director of place – in consultation with the cabinet member for inclusive growth and regeneration and the Section 151 officer – to authorise up to £7.410 million expenditure from the approved St Helens town centre phase 1A investment to progress pre-construction “enabling works”.

An image of how phase one of St Helens town centre's regeneration could lookAn image of how phase one of St Helens town centre's regeneration could look (Image: St Helens Council ECF)

Furthermore, as recommended, members delegated authority to the executive director of place – in consultation with the cabinet member for transport and environment, and the Section 151 officer – to authorise £8.906 million of expenditure to progress design requirements for the St Helens multi-modal interchange in advance of the receipt of £7.886 million of funding from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

They also delegated authority to the director of legal and governance, in consultation with the executive director of place, to “execute related development funding agreements with the English Cities Fund”.

In September, the cabinet approved the investment of £69.2 million of council funding to deliver phase 1A of the St Helens town centre regeneration initiative, together with a number of related delegations that have subsequently “progressed positively”.

The report to cabinet said that the “enabling works” encompass all activities that are reasonably required to enable commencement of construction for the new buildings and associated public realm improvements in the phase 1A development.

These include site establishment works, “post vacant possession asbestos surveys”, an “allowance for asbestos removal should asbestos be found”, demolition of the Hardshaw Centre, and post-demolition site investigation works.

The report also stated that the delivery of the multi-modal interchange project is “integral to the transformation” of St Helens town centre and the phase 1A development, adding that it will deliver a “state-of-the-art” bus station to meet the long-term future public transport needs and essential facilities for passengers.