Runcorn Town Deal Consultation

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Runcorn Town Investment Plan

On 6 September 2019, the government invited Halton Borough Council, with Runcorn amongst 100 towns nationwi​​de, to develop proposals for a Town Deal, as part of the £3.6 billion Towns Fund.

For more information https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/towns-fund-prospectus

The Runcorn Town Deal Board started work in January 2020. The Board has been advising the Council on investment priorities and project proposals for the Runcorn Town Investment Plan.

The deadline for submission of the Town Investment Plan is January 2021. The Board encourages local people and businesses to respond to the questionnaire.

The Council wants the Runcorn Town Vision to form the basis of the Runcorn Town Investment Plan to gain £25m of government funding. Halton Borough Council adopted the Vision in 2017. The Runcorn Town Vision is a non-statutory, high-level document, which sets out ideas and aspirations for Runcorn Town. The vision document is on the Council’s website

Runcorn established itself in the 19th century as a successful industrial town situated along the river Mersey, between the Manchester Ship Canal and the Bridgewater Canal. Runcorn emerged as a small, yet successful urban district in the early 20th century. The designation of Runcorn New Town in 1964 marked a change of fortunes and meant that not only people moved away to the new town, but also businesses re-located to new employment areas. Furthermore, large areas of the town were cleared for the Silver Jubilee Bridge in 1961, and again in 1975 for the construction of the new town’s Expressway and bridge approaches that severed the town from other areas of Runcorn.

Runcorn Town Vision highlights the enormous potential of Runcorn Town following the opening of the new Mersey Gateway Bridge in 2017 and the big opportunity de-linking of the Silver Jubilee Bridge approach structures provides. The document sets out ambitions and priorities to shape Runcorn Town’s future. It illustrates the interconnectivity between key opportunity sites, demonstrating that Runcorn Town’s offer is significantly greater than the sum of its parts. The Vision’s ambitions, delivered through a range of exciting opportunities and projects, will boost the attractiveness of our area as a place to live, work and visit. The aims and objectives are to: 

  1. Build a stronger town centre, through consolidation of the retail core and attraction of quality commercial investment at key sites;
  2. Realise the potential of Runcorn Mainline Station, through the creation of a Station Quarter and opening up the road network;
  3. Improve linkage, accessibility and movement between development opportunity sites and throughout the area as a whole;
  4. Utilise its assets, such as the waterways, culture and heritage;
  5. Grow the residential offer to provide a choice of quality homes to meet local needs and increase footfall in the town centre.

In 2020, the government created a webpage https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/towns-fund-prospectus, where people can post ideas to improve Runcorn Town. Many of these ideas are included in the Vision document, and in the Questionnaire below. The most popular post on the MyTown website is the aspiration to re-establish the link between the Bridgewater Canal and the Manchester Ship Canal. 

Below are nine topics with associated questions.

This public questionnaire is available from 1 October 2020 until 28 October.

The response received from the public consultation questionnaire will be anonymously analysed and shared with the Runcorn Town Deal Board to develop the Town Investment Plan. 

Runcorn Town Vision document
Runcorn Town Deal Locations​

  1. Runcorn Town Vision
Runcorn Town Vision document
Runcorn Town Vision document

The Council adopted Runcorn Town Vision that sets the framework for the economic regeneration of Runcorn Town, identifying several aims and objectives, as well as opportunity sites. Some opportunity sites, like the former College site, were developed. Most of the opportunity sites however still need delivering. The recent demolition of the 1975 bridge approaches for the Silver Jubilee Bridge creates an exciting new phase in the regeneration of Runcorn Town. 

Theme 1: build a strong town centre 

  1. Creating new jobs on the High Street
Vacant High Street shops
Vacant High Street shops

High streets everywhere are going through rapid change, due to fundamental changes in consumer demand and the digital revolution, accelerated by Covid-19. It is unlikely that demand for retail space and retail jobs will increase in the future. Diversifying the High Street with new uses will help to increase jobs and footfall and revitalise the area. Creating new, shared workspaces and office facilities will improve the town centre economy, enabling self-employed and start-ups to benefit from synergy. Runcorn High Street has some vacant and underused properties, as well as a bus station that feels too large. A variety of buildings and sites along the High Street are suitable for mixed-use repurposing, supporting a stronger town centre. One aspiration is to create a new Creative & Digital Industries Cluster with opportunities for artist provision, shared workspace for start-ups, and youth activities to bring local people together and embrace the digital revolution. Another aspiration is to increase the educational, skills, and health service offer. 

  1. Improving access for local residents to local jobs
Astmoor Masterplan
Astmoor Masterplan

The Astmoor Industrial Estate and Heath Business and Technical Park are the employment areas nearest to Runcorn Town and provide jobs and income for local residents, which in turn support local spend and town centre shops.

A Business Improvement District manages the shared interest of businesses at Astmoor. A 2020 Masterplan proposes a range of improvements supporting economic growth and jobs at Astmoor, fitting the Local Industrial Strategy. One of the proposals for Astmoor is to create a central hub, with facilities for all to use like a café, training room, showers for cyclists, nursery, meeting room, and gym. There is space for such a central hub on land handed back after the recent completion of the new Mersey Gateway Bridge.

The Heath is currently developing a masterplan, with an architectural competition to be finalised in the autumn of 2020. The masterplan for the Heath aims to create new homes, and business space on site, aiming to grow its contribution to the local economy. 

  1. Improving access to Health facilities.
A generic square placeholder image with rounded corners in a figure.
Improving access to health facilities.

Runcorn Town is an area with a population that statistically speaking has more health problems than the average in England. Due to Covid-19, amongst other NHS services, screening programmes have been paused, meaning that there are now more  residents requiring screening to prevent illness, including cancer. There is an aspiration to provide additional diagnostic services, including screening in Runcorn town centre, as part of an improved health offer. In addition to diagnostics and screening provision within the town centre it may be possible to provide easier access to other health services, especially those frequently accessed by women and children, for example  pre and post-natal midwifery and health visitor reviews. An additional health services offer in the town centre could be part of a mixed-use proposal, aiming to provide a range of services and support to the community to improve health and wellbeing in the broadest sense. An improved health offer will not only benefit local residents with their health and wellbeing, but also strengthens the diversity of the town centre’s economy. Public services are a key component of the overall town centre attraction, generating footfall that in turn supports local shops.

Theme 2: Realise the potential of Runcorn Mainline Station 

  1. Creating a new key gateway to the Liverpool City Region at Runcorn Station Quarter
Artist impression of Station Quarter.
Artist impression of Station Quarter

With the removal of the bridge approaches of the 1975 widened Silver Jubilee Bridge, the area in front of Runcorn railway station has the potential to become a new gateway into Runcorn and the Liverpool City region. There is funding for a new Station Piazza and bus interchange, with construction starting soon. There is an opportunity to create a new key gateway development at the station quarter, including shared office space for businesses, convenience retail, and residential use, benefitting from its key location on the West coast mainline, and within the Liverpool City Region. The new gateway can help to improve the perception of the town, and become a well-connected part of the town centre, increasing footfall to support town centre shops and services. 

Theme 3: Improve linkage, accessibility and movement

  1. Creating a more pleasant environment in the town centre to dwell and meet, whilst socially distancing.
Hazlehurst Arts Collective
Hazlehurst Arts Collective

Many local residents in Runcorn town centre live in terraced housing with no gardens. The greenery in the town centre is mainly verge and not fit for socialising and community activities. The importance of open green spaces in the heart of communities showed clearly during the pandemic lockdown measure. There are some opportunities to create new publicly accessible, attractive, open green spaces, not only supporting local residents, but also making visits to the town centre shops more pleasant. There is a variety of places to create accessible green spaces:

  • The Brindley Green can be made accessible, in conjunction with the plans to extend the Brindley with a new café-restaurant, as a space to dwell and hold civic events.
  • The demolition of the 1970s Silver Jubilee Bridge approaches has created an opportunity to improve the area around Egerton Street and Rutland Street. The area now benefits from more space, more natural light, less transport noise, and vehicle related air pollution. There is an aspiration from residents for a community garden and a street art project.
  • The Buddhist Temple on the High Street has plans to build a new ordination hall. It also aspires a new Peace Garden, on an area of underused land that is Council owned.
  • There is no good pedestrian connection between the shops on Church Street and the nearby river Mersey. There is an aspiration to improve the link and create a green space with views over the Mersey encouraging people to stay longer in the town centre.
  • To make the High Street a more pleasant environment and less dominated by vehicle traffic, closure of a section of the High Street for general traffic enables widening of pavements, improving cycling provision, and prioritising buses. 

Theme 4: Utilise its assets, such as the waterways, culture and heritage 

  1. Developing the cultural offer and evening economy with a Brindley extension
Proposed Brindley Extension
Proposed Brindley Extension

The Brindley Theatre is a key cultural asset for Runcorn. Since it is opening in 2004, the Brindley has gradually grown its visitor numbers, which in recent years have plateaued, with 86,000 tickets sold in 2019. In order to help bring people back to the theatre following Covid-19, and create an even better customer offer and support an evening economy in the town, there is an aspiration to extend the Brindley with a large café-restaurant, a conference space and viewing platform. Reshaping the Brindley Green, better connecting the theatre with the High Street, and making the theatre more visible will enable more people to use its facilities and embed it as an anchor of a cultural quarter. A new DDA compliant pedestrian bridge across the canal would better link the Brindley with the car park opposite. A new outdoor event space closer to the High Street could accommodate civic events and some street trading. 

  1. Improving use of the Bridgewater Canal, Runcorn’s unique selling point.
Waterloo Bridge where Bridgewater Canal ends
Waterloo Bridge where Bridgewater Canal ends

Historically the Bridgewater Canal was the lifeline of the local economy. In the 1960’s the connection between the BWC and Manchester Ship Canal was lost, and the new approaches to the widened Silver Jubilee Bridge built across its route. The Bridgewater Canal is now a ‘dead end’. The Runcorn Locks Restoration Society has a vision to re-connect the Bridgewater Canal with the Manchester Ship Canal. Their aspiration is to create a visitor destination that will establish a Runcorn Ring for leisure boating, and will bring in tourists further developing Runcorn’s visitor economy. As a local charity, they have good support from the local community. A major obstacle to their plans was recently removed, with the demolition of the 1975 Silver Jubilee Bridge approaches. A new marina would create further opportunities for people to have a barge, and for visitor moorings. There are other locations to improve use of the canal in Runcorn. 

Theme 5: Grow the residential offer

  1. Growing the residential catchment in Runcorn Old Town.
A generic square placeholder image with rounded corners in a figure.
Demolished Silver Jubilee Bridge approaches area

Runcorn Old Town is a popular area to live and there is good, local demand for new and affordable homes. A growing population living in the heart of the town centre supports greater use of public services and viability of shops, underpinning the town centre economy. Various previously developed sites seem suitable for residential developments. Property values in Runcorn Town are however low in comparison to surrounding Cheshire villages, making it more difficult for residential developments to come forward based on market demand only. One of the potential sites for residential developments is land that has emerged in the area of Rutland Street and Egerton Street, following the demolition of the approaches for the 1975 widened Silver Jubilee Bridge. The area in Dukesfield now benefits from more space, more natural light, and less noise, and less vehicle related air pollution. The initial thought is that family homes would be most suitable for this area, possibly re-creating the historic street pattern. Some areas suitable for new homes are:

  • Rutland Street / Egerton Street area
  • Runcorn Station Quarter
  • Brindley Car Park
  • High Street

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