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Planning and funding

What is the difference between a Hybrid and Reserved Matters planning application?

Phase One of the town centre regeneration project will be delivered through a number of planning applications:


Hybrid Planning Application – The first planning application was submitted last year and established the principles of the project. The Council approved a hybrid planning application for the redevelopment of Earlestown town centre in Summer 2022. The hybrid application was made up of full planning permission for the demolition of the market office and public toilets, and outline permission for the development of a covered market canopy, landscaping and retail kiosks.

Reserved Matters Planning Application – This is the second scheduled planning application, which we are now preparing to bring forward. It will provide more detailed information on the design, landscaping, access and layout principles already established in the hybrid planning application.


Full Planning and Listed Building Consent – In addition to the Reserved Matters Application, a full planning application and application for listed building consent will be submitted at the same time for the proposed refurbishment of the Town Hall. This is required for all works of alteration or extension to a listed building that affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest.

What is the purpose of the agreed Masterplan Development Framework document?

The Masterplan Development Framework is a document that sets out the aspirations for Earlestown town centre, whilst considering the opportunities and challenges that exist. It illustrates the thoughts and ideas around the significant investment that will transform the area for the benefit of local people.

St Helens Borough Council formally adopted the Masterplan Development Framework in February 2022. It is guiding development in Earlestown town centre area over the next 20 years and will form a material consideration in the determination of all future planning applications across the area. Whilst it will not form part of the statutory Development Plan, it has been prepared having had full regard to local and national planning policy.

Who is bringing forward these plans?

The Council has entered into a 20-year partnership with The English Cities Fund (ECF) – a partnership between Homes England, the government’s new homes accelerator, Legal & General investments and the nationwide placemaker, Muse. Alongside the agreed Masterplan Development Framework, the partnership has developed the proposals for Phase One of the transformation of Earlestown town centre.

More information on the proposals are detailed across this website and are being made available to the public at a series of events in November.

If approved, what are the timescales for the work?

The external work on the Town Hall was a separate project that was completed in late Spring. ECF has also commenced the detailed design stage for the rest of the Phase One development, which includes the internal works to the Town Hall and the Market Square. So, behind the scenes, lots of people are already working really hard on the regeneration of Earlestown.

We expect to submit a reserved matters planning application for the Market Square and a full planning and listed building consent application for the regeneration of the Town Hall in Earlestown by the end of this year (2023) with work beginning in Summer 2024.

According to the indicative timetable given in the master plan construction work was due to start in Spring 2023. Why has this changed?

Our original, anticipated timelines changed because we had the opportunity to make a bid to Round 2 of the Government’s Levelling Up Fund (LUF) to strengthen our investment in Earlestown. Preparation of the LUF bid and awaiting the outcome has delayed commencement but Earlestown is one of only two projects in the Liverpool City Region to secure LUF funding under Round 2.

This unprecedented £20m of government investment has presented an opportunity to refine and strengthen our Earlestown regeneration programme. This has required additional design and pre-development work, alongside further community engagement, all of which has been brought forward by ECF as the council’s 20-year strategic development partner.

How is the project being funded?

While funding provision for the Earlestown project was contained in the Council’s pipeline capital programme. it was always anticipated that external funding would be sought to bring the plans to fruition. alongside investment from the Council. The successful LUF bid, therefore, clearly enables the Council to strengthen its own investment of more than £8 million of match-funding for Earlestown to maximise the benefits of the regeneration.

How will the maintenance of the Town Hall be paid for in future?

An outline business plan was prepared as part of the LUF bid and this is being further developed alongside the design proposals to ensure that the Town Hall operates sustainably going forwards, with income generated to meet the ongoing maintenance costs.

Earlestown Market

Will the market have to close during the construction?

We are committed to making sure the market continues to operate during the delivery of the regeneration programme. All options for this remain open, including a temporary relocation of the market to a nearby setting within the town centre, or a phased approach to construction that would allow the Market Square to remain in use during the works.

These options will continue to be explored in close collaboration with both market traders, local businesses and the wider community as the Construction Phase Plan is developed.

Why has the proposed location of the Canopy changed?

The Masterplan Development Framework and hybrid planning application did not fix the location of the canopy, but subsequent detailed design work has identified the most appropriate location for the canopy, which is shown in the images as part of this public consultation.


Locating the proposed market canopy to run parallel to Haydock Street creates a more flexible use of the space and will ensure unobstructed views across the Market Square, towards the historic Obelisk and Town Hall.

The Masterplan Development Framework also recognises that the Haydock Street side of the Market Square has weak frontages, which the canopy would strengthen.


Will people still be able to park in the Market Square on non-market days?

We acknowledge the strength of feeling and sensitivity for matters of parking in the town centre; however, the Market Square’s current use for indiscriminate parking on non-market days is not sustainable and needs to be suitably addressed.


We want to create a welcoming high-quality, distinctive and multi-purpose square that will provide a better environment for traders and shoppers, while encouraging more people to spend time in Earlestown throughout the week.

We are committed to making sure the Market Square is a safe and inviting space, and one that is multi-functional. Our proposals include the flexibility for the square to accept vehicles as appropriate, depending on what is needed on a given day.

Will current parking provision in the Market Square be replaced elsewhere?

A comprehensive, parking survey has been commissioned to assess the suitability of existing facilities across the town centre, and this information will be used to inform decisions to ensure Earlestown has an appropriate and fit-for purpose parking estate.

What will be the provision of car-parking for market stallholders?

We want to create a welcoming high-quality, distinctive and multi-purpose square that will provide a better environment for traders and shoppers, while encouraging more people to spend time in Earlestown throughout the week.


There is currently a lack of structure to vehicle access and parking on market days, and at other times, which does not help to create a safe and inviting space.

We acknowledge the strength of feeling and sensitivity for matters of parking in the town centre. We are committed to making sure traders have the access they need to load / unload their goods and can easily park in the vicinity of the market. We continue to consider a range of options for this, which could include designated areas for stall-holder parking and servicing alongside facilities for disabled persons, to create a safer and more vibrant Market Square.

What else will ECF/St Helens Borough Council be doing to add vibrance / footfall to the town on market days pre and post development?

We want to create a vibrant, high quality, welcoming and open town centre that will provide a better environment for market traders, businesses and shoppers, encouraging more people to spend time in Earlestown throughout the week.


The new market canopy, enhanced Market Square and wider public realm improvements will be a key part of this, providing attractive and flexible spaces that can be used for year-round events. We anticipate a range of events and activities will be scheduled, working with local groups to encourage people into the town.

Revenue funding has also been secured from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to support the operation of the Earlestown market. This will provide a valuable resource for dedicated promotional activities.