Dec 13 2012 by Rob Pattinson, Skelmersdale Advertiser
PLANS for a £20m revamp of Skelmersdale town centre have been approved.
West Lancashire council’s planning committee gave the go-ahead to the first phase of developer St Modwen’s scheme.
It could create 350 jobs and involves a five-screen cinema complex, restaurants and shops, a food store and petrol station and public spaces.
But MP Rosie Cooper has now urged developers to get on with making the scheme a reality – and called for definite time scales to be put in place and stuck to.
St Modwen has worked with the council and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) over the past four years on the scheme.
Projects director Paul Batho said: “The participation of the community has really supported the efforts of the partners, who have worked hard to keep the plans alive throughout these challenging times. There is still a long way to go over the coming months, but we will continue to work closely with West Lancashire council and the HCA to develop plans for delivery of the scheme.”
Now the green light has been given the developer will begin to market the shopping and leisure space to prospective tenants.
Mr Batho said: “The obtaining of planning consent will help reinforce our existing discussions with potential end users of the retail and leisure space available and are looking to pre-let these properties over the coming months.”
Cllr Martin Forshaw, responsible for planning and development, said: “The regeneration of Skelmersdale town centre will bring huge benefits to everyone in the borough, not just those living in the town.”
The project is expected to create new links between the development and existing parts of the town centre, such as The Concourse shopping centre and West Lancashire College.
There are also plans for a new youth zone, in a county council initiative aiming to provide more facilities for young people.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said: “I’m absolutely delighted that the planning permission for the redevelopment of the town centre has been secured at long last.
“I understand that St Modwen are saying there is a ‘long way to go’. My message to them is that it is time to get on with delivering this scheme. If they are committed to developing Skelmersdale then we need to see some definite time scales. The people of Skelmersdale have waited long enough. I grow increasingly frustrated by the lack of urgency and the speed of progress on this scheme. I’ve spoken of developing a future for Skelmersdale for the next 50 years. I won’t let it take 50 years to deliver.”