THE opening of a new retail and leisure hub on the site of a former multi-storey car park in St Helens has been delayed until next year.
The Star reported in the summer after planning permission was granted for up to seven years for land where the former Chalon Way car park stood.
St Helens Council said the Foundry Street site would see a £1m investment, with 51 containers and outdoor cinema screens installed to create a mixed-use leisure hub.
The venue will be known as The Foundry.
In an announcement over the summer, the council said the venue – which will hope to mirror the success of other shipping container-style sites that operate around the country – was due to open in the autumn.
However, there have been no signs of activity and – after waiting for a response for several weeks about an opening date – the Sar has been told the plans have been put back to next year.
Both the Steel Life Group, which was awarded the tender to deliver The Foundry, and the council have cited “disappointing but unavoidable delays” due to turbulence in the economy.
In a statement issued via the council, Chris Lewis, managing director of Steel Life Group, provided an update on plans.
He said: “Our commitment to delivering this important project is unwavering, to complement the council’s own wide-ranging activities in support of St Helens town centre.
“We have demonstrated this by securing planning consent in July for the Chalon Way development and despite subsequent dramatic changes to the financial climate, which caused disappointing but unavoidable delays to our planned opening in the Summer, we have now concluded all the necessary legal activity to deliver the project.
“The first fix of the nineteen Phase 1 lettable units and installation of cinema screens are now scheduled to take place between February and May 2023.
“We look forward to creating an active and valuable use of the space during this period, welcoming new business and helping the town centre to become more vibrant and to succeed.”
Meanwhile, Councillor Richard McCauley, cabinet member for regeneration and planning, added that while “there have been unavoidable delays to this exciting project, we look forward to seeing the site take shape and delivering the transformation of this space as part of our medium-term plans for St Helens town centre”.
He added: “We have ambitious long-term plans which recently received outline planning approval for the creation of a new market hall, office, hotel, housing and new bus station but we want to make sure that the town centre continues to offer something for visitors and this attraction will provide that intermediate link between now and the future.”
It will include a stage and outside seating areas to provide business start-up, retail, and leisure units for independent businesses.
When the plans were announced over the summer, the council said the project would aim to deliver up to 100 full time jobs, while creating opportunities for young people.
The former Chalon Way site was flattened at the start of 2021 after the local authority secured funding from the Government for the demolition.
Last Christmas it was used to house an ice rink and stalls but it has been unused for other times.
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