The Market Square is the jewel in the crown of Earlestown and home to one of the oldest working markets in the country. There is a huge opportunity to enhance its infrastructure and appearance to provide a better environment for traders and shoppers alike, while also encouraging people to visit and spend more time in Earlestown.
The area currently occupied by car parking and permanent market stalls would be transformed the space into a beautiful place for people with a multi-use offer. This will create the flexibility to both house Earlestown’s historic market long into the future and provide an attractive and flexible space for a wide range of other events all year round.
A permanent market canopy will create a new positive edge to the square providing sheltered trading space, supporting the market by allowing it to function year-round, especially in poor weather conditions. Introducing a covered canopy also creates a more flexible public square capable of hosting a greater variety of events.
The canopy design is inspired by the rich heritage of the railway, most notably the Sankey Viaduct and its iconic nine arches – the earliest major railway viaduct in the world. The canopy is supported by arches on each side, the design and craftsmanship of which will reflect the rich architectural details that can be found throughout the town, making the design unique to Earlestown.
It will provide cover for up to 60 market stalls with the remainder of the newly landscaped public square continuing to provide outdoor trading space on market days.
Locating the canopy parallel to Haydock Street allows the historic Obelisk to remain in place and shine as the focal point of the square, while establishing direct views of the Town Hall from the square.
The Market Square will be surfaced with high quality paving and have areas of beautiful planting and trees to soften the space, increase biodiversity and offer shade during the Summer.
The design of the square will reflect and celebrate the rich heritage of the town. Additional features include a unique children’s play feature and in-ground water jets (which can be turned off on market days) to animate the space and encourage people to dwell and spend time in the town centre.
Short stay parking/loading and accessible bays are proposed to the edges of the square off Oxford Street and Stanley Street adjacent to the market canopy. The square will benefit from controlled vehicle access at its four corners, including secure bollards with ample loading space for market traders.
An extensive 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 taken to ensure that Earlestown continues to benefit from appropriate and fit-for-purpose parking provisions.
A series of small retail kiosks will be created and situated on the perimeter of the Market Square. The kiosks will help to extend Market Street into the square and provide additional retail and leisure facilities to complement the market and activate the wider public spaces. They may also offer a ‘bridge’ for market traders who are interested in establishing a more permanent presence in Earlestown.
The existing building which contains the market office and public toilets will be demolished to establish direct views across the square towards the Town Hall. New toilets and market facilities will be created close by. The existing toilets will not be removed until a suitable alternative is in place.
Core town centre streets, including Market Street, Bridge Street and Queen Street will be upgraded to create a public realm and highways of greater quality that enhances the historic environment of Earlestown, and creates a distinctive sense of place, encouraging footfall between the rail station. This will include the introduction of street trees and well considered street furniture.
Market Street will benefit from improvements, including replacing the paving with high quality materials along its entire length.
One option being considered is to create a much-improved pedestrian experience by strengthening the pedestrianisation of Market Street. This would ensure the sides of the street are completely clear for pedestrian movement and access to shops. A central zone would also be introduced, featuring a mixture of new planting acting as rainwater gardens, street furniture and spill out opportunities for the shops.
This will include:
Central zone of planting and small trees
Elegant timber benches
Spill out seating space for Market Street traders
Sustainable urban drainage solutions
Clear 3.6m footpath with emergency vehicle access routes
To complement the transformative investment being made in Earlestown, the possible introduction of a heritage-led Shopfront Grant Improvement Scheme initiative is being explored, which could provide support to local businesses and property owners who are seeking to invest in and enhance their buildings within the conservation area.
If there is support for this initiative (and subject to available financial resource) this would likely be a grant-funded scheme that can be applied for by properties in the main town centre streets of Market Street (between Oxford Street and Bridge Street), Oxford Street, Bridge Street and Queen Street.
Precise details of the scheme continue to be explored, including the amount of any grant funding available and level of expected contribution required from businesses / landlords.
If supported, and subject to the availability of financial resources to implement, any scheme would likely be launched after work begins on site with the wider town centre regeneration activity.
The Grade II listed Town Hall has stood as a landmark in the centre of Earlestown since 1893. Its redbrick façade is instantly recognisable and stands as a beacon of the town’s industrial heritage. Sadly, the building was closed in 2008 as it needed significant repairs.
Major work has already taken place on the building’s exterior, and we now have big plans for its interior to be fully refurbished, enhancing its historic features while creating modern facilities that meet the needs of the community.
These proposals would return the Town Hall to its rightful place as a hub of activity, commercial and community uses. It will provide a range of new community spaces and facilities including flexible offices, workspaces, meeting rooms, and a new café.
The main hall’s stage, which once played host to The Beatles, will be restored, enabling it to host regular theatre, music and dance productions once again.
The hall itself will become more flexible, with the mezzanine removed to create more space and the introduction of retractable seating. This will create a new community asset capable of potentially hosting activities such as fitness classes, presentation evenings and other events and functions.
Backstage dressing rooms and toilet facilities will also be introduced.
A new extension will contain an all-new community café, purpose-built to drive local traffic towards the town hall, making it a year-round hub for residents and local businesses. The community café will also help to complement and support the new functions of the town hall.
The once underutilised courtyard will be brought back to life as a beautiful outdoor space featuring plants and benches capable of hosting small outdoor events and providing a quiet sanctuary for peaceful relaxation.
The refurbished Town Hall will be equipped with community spaces and breakout rooms across both floors and flexible office space at ground floor level that can be rented. This will open up opportunities for local independent businesses and organisations to operate and utilise the facilities.
Earlestown’s Town Hall is a beacon to the surrounding area. The famous Victorian clock tower is visible across the town centre and its image is ingrained in Earlestown’s culture.
Over the past year the building’s exterior has been lovingly restored through extensive conservation works, bringing a piece of history into the 21st century.
Dry rot has been addressed, alongside extensive repointing, brickwork and window replacements, and repairs to the roof, all in preparation for the main interior repurposing works.
The clockface of the Town Hall has been lovingly restored and the original Potts of Leeds’ mechanism (including the clock’s original chime) will be reactivated as part of the internal works as a memento to the building’s 125-year history.
Earlestown’s war memorial has also been cleaned, and stone re-laid in places to ensure it remains a focal point at the front of the Town Hall. The memorial garden to the rear of the town hall is also a lovely new addition to the town and thanks go to the community and volunteers who have improved this area.
It is important to us that we hear your views. What do you think of our plans? How can we make them even better? You can provide your views by completing a feedback survey today.
The consultation will close on 4th December 2023.
These proposals are only the first phase of investment in Earlestown and an important part of our borough-wide regeneration initiative.
Community engagement and detailed design
Detailed planning submission
Works start on site
Further proposals for accessibility and environmental improvements to Earlestown Rail Station are being developed with partners from the rail industry as part of the Levelling Up Fund Round 2 programme. A design and delivery programme for the next phase of this work is currently under development and updates will be provided soon.
St Helens Borough Council and ECF are also continuing to explore the earliest possible delivery of the wider redevelopment proposals outlined in the Earlestown Town Centre Masterplan Development Framework, subject to availability of resources.