Skelmersdale's future is looking bright and people living and working in the area are set to reap the benefits of exciting business, housing and leisure projects and with much more in the pipeline.
Skelmersdale people are already benefitting from the £40 million new College and £2 million Lancashire County Council Youth Zone and there are many reasons for people living and working in the town to be optimistic.
Councillor Ian Moran, Leader of West Lancashire Borough Council, said: "I live in Skelmersdale and I am proud to come from the town. There are many things that make Skelmersdale a great place to live and do business and with much more to come in the next few years these are exciting times for the town and its people."
The Borough Council and its partners remain committed to delivering the retail, commercial and leisure elements of the town centre regeneration scheme. Recent meetings have been held between the Council, Homes England and St Modwen to find the best way forward to deliver the scheme and get some development on the ground as soon as possible.
Paul Batho, Development Director for St. Modwen, said: “We are currently in progressive negotiations with a number of potential occupiers who have expressed an interest in coming to Skelmersdale. We continue to work closely with West Lancashire Borough Council and our other development partners to deliver a town centre scheme for the people of Skelmersdale.”
Also, the Firbeck Estate, which is part of the town centre regeneration, has been transformed by the Council with an £8 million Revival Scheme which included 42 new homes.
The Council has also been in discussions with the Concourse centre about their future plans to improve the shopping centre.
Work is ongoing to develop exciting plans for a new town centre swimming pool and leisure facility, and the Council is working with the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to examine options for this to include a health facility.
Recently the Council approved plans for over 200 houses across three sites in Evenwood (Delf Clough), the former Digmoor Sports Centre and at Findon, next to Firbeck. With two sites owned by Homes England and one owned by the Council, a successful joint marketing campaign was embarked upon, showing strong partnership working. Gleeson Homes will start work on these sites shortly.
Paul Oldridge, Regional Director for Gleeson Homes, said: “We sell over 90% of our homes to first time buyers, most of who were renting. Mortgages on our homes can start from as little as £52 per week and we are now delighted that we will soon be able to get young people in Skelmersdale onto the property ladder.”
Complementing its joint working with the Council, Homes England are also in the process of selling the Abbeystead site in Skelmersdale to Morris Homes for 41 new homes, along with a site on Chequer Lane for a further 110 units.
The Council is working with the Homes England on developing high quality housing at Whalleys. The first site is already under development by Keepmoat for just over 200 houses and developer interest has been secured for remaining sites to deliver over 400 houses. All these sites will deliver funding to be recycled back into the town centre scheme.
Councillor Moran said: "Building large numbers of houses shows confidence of private developers to invest in Skelmersdale and links in with the wider regeneration programme as the sites are close to the new town centre. Thanks to a new joint approach between a forward-looking developer and the Council, an innovative way of providing significant numbers of affordable homes has been found for an area which needs regeneration."
The Council is improving social housing estates with another £4 million revival scheme to build 36 new homes in Beechtrees, Digmoor. The Council is also in the latter stages of its record £65 million investment in its housing stock.
Skelmersdale is a great place to do business; with its fantastic connectivity and high quality green business environment, the town has a growing number of high performing UK and international businesses which are committed to, and passionate about Skelmersdale.
Well-known names include Hotter Comfort Concept shoes, PepsiCo Walkers, SCA Hygiene (Essity) and DHL. An increasing number of smaller entrepreneurial businesses are also choosing Skelmersdale as a business base, and overall the town supports 43% of all jobs in West Lancashire.
The Council is committed to ensuring the long-term success of Skelmersdale as a place to do business. It has created the Greenwood Business Centre to help meet demand for units suitable for light industry, manufacturing and distribution and has worked with the Skelmersdale Place Board to create the Skelmersdale Ambassadors Network. Ambassadors act as powerful advocates to attract investment and encourage business growth. The new website letstalkskelmersdale.com will be key in driving business in Skelmersdale forward.
Plans for a railway station in Skelmersdale have made significant progress. The former Glenburn Sports College/Westbank Campus site has been designated as the preferred location. Lancashire County Council has set aside £4.32m to further build the case for a new railway branch line to Skelmersdale town centre. Merseytravel will be contributing up to £765,000 to the work. Should a strong business case be developed and appropriate funding – currently estimated to be around £300m – be identified and secured, the scheme could be delivered within 10 years.
Over the last few years the Borough Council has made improvements to Stanley Coronation Park, and Beacon Country Park which is a Green Flag Award winning park. The Tree House Gallery at Sandy Lane, run by the Borough Council in partnership with the Friends of Sandy Lane, offers arts activities for people of all ages.
The Council is working with partners to make the Tawd Valley Park an even better place for people to enjoy.