Re­gen­er­a­tion plan to cre­ate 2,000 new jobs

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Front Page - BY OLIVER CLAY oliver.clay@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @oliv­erclayRWWN

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

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