Regeneration plan to create 2,000 new jobs
COUNCIL chiefs are poised to give the go-ahead for the regeneration of a Runcorn industrial estate with the aim of creating 2,000 jobs and boosting business rates by £2m a year.
Halton Borough Council’s executive board is due to recommend the preparation of a masterplan and strategy today (Thursday, June 14) for the redevelopment of Astmoor Industrial Estate, which it described as ‘one of the city region’s largest dedicated industrial areas’.
A spokeswoman for the local authority said analysis had shown that Astmoor is underperforming compared to other employment areas such as nearby Manor Park, because Astmoor struggles to meet modern business needs due to a concentration of older and smaller commercial premises and ‘dated 1960s design and layout’.
The report said that there is a ‘strong case for council intervention’.
It is hoped that taking action will boost business rate receipts by £2m per year, add one million square feet of commercial floor space, create 2,000 jobs and safeguard others and generate £2.52m in land sales.
She said the estate is home to a number of thriving businesses, predominantly based in the larger, more modern premises.
The report added that Astmoor’s access to the major road network has been ‘raised significantly by the Mersey Gateway crossing, improving its attractiveness and providing a further incentive for investment.’
It said that once the masterplan has been finalised a further report will be brought to the council’s executive board, expected to take place in early 2019.
Work is already reported to be under way on projects to give Astmoor a boost including £1.2m of Liverpool City Region funding having been secured to improve the busway and cycleways.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Cllr Ron Hignett (physical environment) said: “The Mersey Gateway project has the potential to act as a catalyst for the transformation of Astmoor into a modern business park and employment area which makes the most of its setting close to the River Mersey.
“The proposed regeneration programme will be focused on helping Astmoor to prosper – by supporting existing businesses to grow and attracting new investment. Astmoor can be a driver for local economic prosperity with potential to support the creation of 2,000 new jobs and safeguarding many more.”
Cllr Hignett added: “The next step in developing the masterplan is engaging the local business community, potential investors, neighbouring residential areas and other stakeholders to develop a shared vision for the regeneration of Astmoor.
“This will be done through two stages of consultation.”
The report said Astmoor already has an active and engaged business community, having been a business improvement district (BID) since 2008.
The BID is managed by Halton Chamber Of Commerce And Enterprise.
Rachael Owen, Halton Chamber’s chief executive, said: “The chamber is delighted that the council has chosen this estate as a focus for the proposed regeneration plans.
“Businesses across Astmoor have already demonstrated a commitment to elevating their estate, to working together to achieve a shared vision and investing jointly to improve their working environment, by recently voting in favour of the business improvement district (BID).
“The BID now looks forward to working with the council and assisting in the delivery of an inclusive and cohesive vision; providing a strong voice for businesses and making certain that the regeneration plans incorporate both the current, as well as the future needs, of our businesses and their employees.
She added: “This is a really exciting time for Astmoor Industrial Estate: the proposed investment is significant and very much needed and the potential outcomes of real benefit to everyone living and working in the borough.” ●
A masterplan has been unveiled to regenerate Astmoor Industrial Estate