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Knowsley projects highlighted to kickstart the local and regional economy

by Jonathan Kearney

As lockdown measures are starting to be eased, business and residential communities are slowly starting to ‘get back to a new normal’.

Business doors are once again open, residents are returning to the workplace, visitors to town centres are gradually increasing, schools had reopened to wider year groups prior to the school summer holidays with preparations well underway to welcome all pupils back in September.

Importantly, the local economy is once again moving.

A number of development projects in Knowsley have continued throughout the pandemic – notably the Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot and the new retail development in Kirkby. Despite restrictions, construction on these two major developments has continued to progress.

As well as driving forward the Borough’s own recovery plans, a number of projects have also been highlighted to significantly contribute to support the Liverpool City Region’s economic recovery. These are:-

Shakespeare North Playhouse – Prescot will form part of the UK’s Shakespearean triangle with the arrival of The Shakespeare North Playhouse. Scheduled to open in 2022, with capacity for between 320 and 472 seats, the playhouse will provide a wide ranging and contemporary programme of events and performances, along with an educational offer to engage and excite young and old. As the most significant Shakespeare visitor attraction in the North, The Playhouse will bring significant cultural, educational and economic benefits to Knowsley and the wider City Region.

Huyton Village Centre – Huyton Village Centre’s transformation is continuing, with significant improvement works to shop fronts and the arrival of new hospitality businesses. The Council’s plans include the redevelopment of a seven acre site to deliver a new mixed use development that will include office and commercial space. Plans aim to improve local amenities and capitalise on the village’s excellent transport links.

Headbolt Lane Station – A new railway station at Kirkby Headbolt Lane will provide improved rail links for Kirkby residents. It would see Merseyrail services run into the new station, as opposed to the current services which run as far as Kirkby. Northern services from Wigan and Manchester would also operate to and from the new station. It will also boost connectivity and accessibility for travellers to and from Knowsley Business Park – the largest employment areas in the City Region. The new station is scheduled to be operational by 2023.

Halsnead Garden Village – Halsnead Garden Village in Whiston will become the only garden village in the Liverpool City Region and one of only a few of its kind in the UK. As well delivering over 1500 new houses the project will also create new employment and help attract new businesses to the borough, through the development of a new Employment Park attracting multi-million pound investment in the logistics and advanced manufacturing sectors, creating highly-skilled and well-paid jobs. Work has already started on major transport improvements off site, including enhancements to Tarbock Island at Junction 6 of the M62 and further road and junction improvements across six other locations in and around Whiston.

Cllr Tony Brennan, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “We all want to see confidence returning not only in the Borough, but across the wider Liverpool City Region. We have ambitious plans for our Borough, including housing, retail and leisure developments for the benefit of those who live, work, visit or invest in Knowsley. Despite the pandemic, work has never stopped on our development plans and all have continued to progress over the last four months. It’s great to see some of our projects highlighted as transformational opportunities that are pivotal to the economic recovery of the City Region.”

You can read a copy of the Liverpool City Region’s Economic Recovery Plan here.