A 'Green Mile' for St Helens?
St Helens Green Party is proposing turning the town green in a bid to attract more shoppers, visitors, entrepreneurs and investment.
The party is proposing a raft of improvement measures within a one mile radius of St Helens town centre, and wants to know what local residents, business owners and community groups think too.
St Helens Green Party chair, Andrew Donnelly, explains:
“We care about St Helens and lots of other people do too. If we can all get our heads together then maybe we can turn things around.
“St Helens Green Party wants a town centre that is attractive and vibrant, with a truly diverse mix of shops, bars and cafes – the very opposite of what we have now.
“We have to find ways to encourage genuinely local businesses that are in St Helens for the long haul, rather than here today/gone tomorrow chain stores that can usually be found on any high street in any other town anyway.
“Two thirds of the country’s half a million retail outlets are independent. Perhaps this is the way back for St Helens? It has to be worth a try. After all, what’s the alternative?”
St Helens Green Party’s suggestions
Town centre – all change
With its over-reliance on fast food joints, bars, pound stores and charity shops, few would deny that St Helens town centre is experiencing a worrying decline.
St Helens Green Party proposes:
- local policies that promote and support local investment e.g. policies that allow shopping units to be made available on a wider tenure for local start-up shops and businesses;
- action against absentee landlords and developers who block improvements and whose properties blight the town;
- measures to improve St Helens’s ‘concrete jungle’ image:
- demolition of the town centre’s worst eyesores;
- external enhancements to remaining concrete structures, such as ‘vertical gardens’ to conceal ugly facades.
- a mini-parkland in Church Square, more in keeping with the parish church itself, and sensitive to weddings and funerals;
- a greener Victoria Square; and
- re-introducing the farmers’ market.
St Thomas’s Square – time to stop the grot
It’s 15 years since families were moved out and flats demolished, but the derelict site appears no nearer development. Plans for a new £30million leisure venue, including a Travelodge hotel and ten-pin bowling alley, failed to materialise.
St Helens Green Party believes that the council should re-acquire the entire site for the benefit of the local community and businesses. Options include a public park, wildflower meadow, allotments and a small overflow car park for Royal Mail use.
Queen’s Park – restoration time
Improvements to the leisure centre are welcome, but the park (and the area around it) has been neglected for too long.
St Helens Council should work with local residents and community groups to identify what can be done to improve the park for the benefit of the whole community.
For example, St Helens Green Party believes that park’s long-buried brook, which runs from Dilloway Street to Boundary Road, should be reinstated with reed beds and wildflowers introduced to encourage wildlife. Similar schemes elsewhere, such as Ladywell Park in Catford, London, have transformed local parklands.
St Helens Central and approaches
Thousands of people arrive in St Helens, or pass through, by train every day. For many people, what they see from the train forms a lasting impression of St Helens.
St Helens Green Party urges the council to work with Network Rail to identify eyesores and introduce environmental improvements around the approaches to St Helens Central.
Burgy Banks/St Helens Canal/Merton Bank Road
With its wealth of flora and fauna, the Burgies is one of the town’s greatest assets, and should be acknowledges as such.
Protection should be set in stone, and the area around enhanced and made more accessible to visitors.
St Helens Canal/Hotties
The St Helens Canal ought to be a major town centre attraction, but has for decades been treated with contempt – despite the hard work of volunteers.
In the short term, St Helens Green Party urges the council to work with businesses whose properties adjoin the canal to enhance the stretch from the former Tesco to Parr Street, and Corporation Street to Merton Bank Road.
In the long term, St Helens Council should look to restore the entire town centre stretch as an inland marina and visitor destination.
Former St Helens Ford premises, City Road
The fantastic restoration work at Victoria Park and Pilkington’s solar energy-prompted investment at Cowley Hill could be the spur for an extended eco-park north of the town centre.
St Helens Green Party believes that the former St Helens Ford site in City Road could form part of an extended Cabbage Hall allotment site and play area for the Hard Lane estate, rather than become another St Thomas’s Square.
Cannington Shaw No.7 Bottle Shop
St Helens has never properly respected its heritage properly and yet another listed building is now in a perilous state.
Urgent steps are needed to protect and restore this important aspect of the town’s glass-making tradition.
St Helens Green Party would like to see bland road names such as Linkway replaced by ones with local relevance, for example Sir Thomas Beecham Way.
Andrew Donnelly adds:
“We can’t reverse years of neglect overnight, but we have to start somewhere. Although we have plenty of ideas of our own, we’d like people from all over St Helens to join in the debate.
“We understand the financial implications of many of our suggestions, but Victoria Park serves as a prime example of how vision and determination are the staring point.”