Planning applications submitted for Earlestown's market-led revival

01.03.24 3 min read by Charlotte Kennedy

ECF and St Helens Borough Council and have submitted a Reserved Matters planning application to advance the next stage in the delivery of the regeneration of Earlestown.

Under our proposals, the historic market town – home to the oldest working market in the country – will be equipped with a new permanent Market Canopy inspired by the Sankey Viaduct landmark. The canopy will provide high-quality, sheltered trading space to support and grow Earlestown’s historic market long into the future and provide an attractive and flexible space to host events all year round.

The Market Square will be transformed with quality paving and seating areas, family-friendly features and public art, complemented by beautiful planting and trees to soften the space, increase biodiversity, and offer shade during the summer months.

The Reserved Matters application for the Market Square will be shortly followed by a full planning application and Listed Building Consent application for the comprehensive refurbishment and repurposing of Earlestown’s Grade II Listed Town Hall. The building, which has already benefitted from an external restoration, will be reopened to the public with community meeting rooms, event space, flexible workspaces and a new courtyard garden and café. Its main hall will be brought back to life as a performance and events space, helping to develop the evening economy in Earlestown.

In addition, a wide range of public realm improvements will be delivered, making the town centre more pedestrian and cycle-friendly, and upgrading key high streets with a high-quality look and feel to celebrate Earlestown’s proud heritage.

The plans are funded by a £20m grant from Round 2 of the Government’s Levelling Up Fund (LUF) with £8m match funding provided by St Helens Borough Council, and are being brought forward by ECF, the regeneration joint venture of developer Muse, Homes England, and Legal & General.

The submission follows a comprehensive public consultation at the end of 2023, which drew more than 240 people to public exhibitions and feedback sessions across Earlestown, Newton-le-Willows and Wargrave.

The responses demonstrated high levels of support for each individual aspect of the proposals. This included 80% of people stating that they were in favour of the proposed new Market Canopy and 84% being supportive of plans to refurbish and reopen Earlestown’s historic Town Hall.  Three-quarters (73%) of respondents stated that they believed the plans would benefit the town and more than two-thirds (68%) said that they were likely to spend more time in Earlestown as a result.

Councillor David Baines, leader of St Helens Borough Council, said:

The positive feedback received through the public consultation affirms that our local communities in and around Earlestown are keen for positive change to begin.

“The stunning designs for Earlestown reflect our ambitions to invest in and improve our town centres and infrastructure across the Borough in a way that celebrates and builds on local character and qualities.

“In Earlestown, the proposals for a much more attractive, family-friendly and flexible Market Square and a fully restored and reopened Town Hall community hub, will help to deliver the diverse, vibrant town centre residents and local businesses deserve.”

Tom Ivinson, Development Manager at ECF, said: 

Our proposals for Earlestown will strengthen the town and market’s offering helping it to grow and thrive, by creating spaces that residents and local businesses can be proud of. Earlestown’s rich history, traditional Market Square and the beautiful Town Hall are enviable assets for any modern market town. These proposals represent a huge opportunity to enhance the town’s infrastructure and appearance to provide a better environment for traders and shoppers alike, encouraging more people to visit and spend more time in Earlestown. ”

If the planning applications are approved, construction work would begin in Summer 2024. Earlestown’s weekly market will remain operational throughout the construction period.

The proposals are the first phase of investment in Earlestown. Further proposals for accessibility and environmental improvements to Earlestown Rail Station are being developed by St Helens Borough Council with partners from the rail industry as part of the Levelling Up Fund Round 2 programme.


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