The green light has been given on four business cases that form part of the Reconnecting Runcorn Town Deal, unlocking £14m of Towns Fund investment for the town.
The business cases for the four projects were submitted to Government back in August.
The documents had to provide evidence that demonstrated how each project met certain criteria set by the Government. This included setting out the outcomes and benefits to the community of each project; assurance that the project was fully costed and that it would deliver value for money; and that any potential risks have been identified and taken into consideration.
Having passed the Government’s review process, £14m funding has now been confirmed for:
Runcorn Station Quarter: A new enterprise facility at the station gateway, with quality modern offices, that are not available in the town centre. This will attract new businesses, providing a wider variety of job opportunities in the heart of the community, more accessible to local people. The Council acquired Elite House in 2021 and has decided to repurpose it as an enterprise facility, after the building became vacant earlier this year.
Brindley Theatre Enhancement: A well-designed extension to the Brindley Theatre with a large cafe-restaurant, and a welcoming, safe, and inclusive civic space on the Brindley Green, providing a more accessible and visible cultural destination. A planning application for the proposed extension to the Brindley Theatre and changes to the Brindley Green was submitted in the summer.
Health and Education Hub: A new health and education facility in the town centre providing local residents improved access to a wider variety of health, wellbeing, and training services. In consultation with the NHS and College, the Council decided to repurpose the current library building in Granville Street for the envisaged Health and Education Hub, with the Library set to move to the Brindley.
Creative and Digital Skills Centre: A new skills facility on the High Street offering young people access to creative and digital play, learn, and training for future employment opportunities. The restoration of the listed, Georgian property 71 High Street is now complete and ready for occupation by Hazlehurst Arts Collective. The Council acquired the former Gas Store (65 High Street) in the spring to make it part of the project, as the property was becoming vacant with the business relocating to a light-industrial location. A Planning application was submitted October 2022 for repurposing 59, 63, and 65 High Street, with a new built youth centre at 57 High Street.
Commenting on the news from Government, Chair of the Runcorn Town Deal Board, Adrian Fillingham said:
“The confirmation by Government that four business cases have been approved is great news for Runcorn. It is an achievement that will drive transformation of Runcorn town centre in the years to come.
“While we are delighted that the funding has been released, this is tempered by a degree of caution, given the current challenges being faced by national and global economies – of which Runcorn will not be immune.
“We are already hearing anecdotal stories of the impact of rising inflation on construction costs.
“Most of our seven projects are still in the early stages of development, with some projects expected to start on site during summer 2023, so we will need to watch closely to see how the situation develops into next year to determine what the impact may be for our Reconnecting Runcorn plans.”
The three remaining Reconnecting Runcorn business cases will be submitted to Government in November 2022, which if approved, will mean all of the potential £23.6m of Town Deal funding earmarked for Runcorn, will have been secured.
In July 2021, it was announced that Runcorn would be awarded £23.6m as part of the Government’s Town Deal scheme, following the submission of the Runcorn Town Investment Plan (TIP) in January 2021.
Given the title ‘Reconnecting Runcorn’, the TIP is made up of seven projects, suggested by local people, businesses, community groups, and the local authority.