Halton Borough Council has begun work to restore 71 High Street in Runcorn. The work will involve repurposing the listed building as artist space, as part of the wider ‘Reconnecting Runcorn’ ambition to establish a Creative and Digital Skills Centre.
The vision for the Creative and Digital Skills Centre is to see currently vacant properties on the High Street transformed into vibrant workspaces for the creative and digital community sector, where the local community can also learn new skills and take part in activities.
The project is one of seven that together form the ‘Reconnecting Runcorn’ Town Investment Plan, aimed at making Runcorn a prime location, by providing the workforce, connectivity and infrastructure business needs to thrive.
The restoration of 71 High Street will take an estimated six months to complete. The work has been prepared and will be overseen by Cassidy + Ashton Building Surveyors from Chester, and the restoration will be carried out by Warden from Preston.
Other properties being considered for repurposing as part of the Creative and Digital Skills project, include the former print shop W. Stringers of 63 High Street, which has been empty since 1994.
Talking about the Creative and Digital Skills Centre Project, Executive Board Member for Employment, Learning and Skills, and Community Councillor Paul Nolan:
“It’s really exciting that this listed building is being given a new lease of life and could soon be a space that inspires our current and future local creative talents.
“To have this focal point where local people can learn new skills and businesses can collaborate will enable many more of them to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities offered by the thriving creative and digital sectors – in addition to revitalising our local high street.”
Claire Bradbury, member of the Runcorn Town Deal Board added: “The establishment of a cluster of creative and digital like-minded not-for-profit/community focused organisations will provide opportunities for local people to learn new skills through unique experiences and exciting projects. The new uses should bring more people to the high street and help to create a thriving town centre that will benefit other small traders too.
“I am really excited to see that the vision for the project also includes opportunities especially for young people.”
In July 2021 it was announced that the Runcorn Town Investment Plan had been awarded £23.6m of Government funding to deliver the seven Reconnecting Runcorn projects.
Each of the seven Reconnecting Runcorn projects are currently preparing a business case that must be submitted to Government by summer 2022.
For more information, please contact email@example.com, or visit www.reconnectingruncorn.info.
The seven Reconnecting Runcorn Projects are:
Runcorn Station Quarter £1,245,643: 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.
Unlock Runcorn £4,918,025: A new and unique visitor attraction, maximising the use of heritage and waterway assets, providing increased footfall and spend, to make the town centre thrive
Brindley Theatre Enhancement £6,606,231: 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
Town Centre New Homes £960,294 : New quality homes on a variety of sites, which have been left undeveloped due to contamination and other issues. This will provide new homes for an ageing population, a consequence of the new town development, and attract families with young children.
High Street Connectivity £2,820,198: A more pedestrian and cycling friendly High Street environment, providing better local connections, and more opportunities for active lifestyles, social interaction and wellbeing.
Health and Education Hub £2,853,520: A new health and education facility on the high street providing local residents improved access to a wider variety of health, wellbeing, and training services.
Creative and Digital Skills Centre £3,960,089: A new skills facility on the high street providing, especially young people, access to creative and digital play, learn, and training for future employment opportunities.
About the Towns Fund – Town Deals
On 27 July 2019, the Prime Minister announced that the Towns Fund would support an initial 101 places across England to develop Town Deal proposals, to drive economic regeneration and deliver long-term economic and productivity growth. See further details of the announcement.
A Town Deal is an agreement in principle between government, the Lead Council and the Town Deal Board. It will set out a vision and strategy for the town, and what each party agrees to do to achieve this vision.
See the 101 places being supported to develop Town Deals.
About Northern Powerhouse
Some Northern Powerhouse key facts:
• The Northern Powerhouse is a key aspect of this Government’s approach to addressing the productivity gap in the North and ensuring a stronger, more sustainable economy for all parts of the UK.
• The government has awarded £3.4bn in three rounds of Growth Deals across the Northern Powerhouse.