Warrington’s rail hub, restaurants and hotel plans ‘depend on government funding’

Ambitious plans to deliver a new rail hub surrounded by a hotel, restaurants and shops are firmly on the table – but funding will be needed.

Warrington Borough Council is progressing feasibility and masterplanning work for the proposed Bank Quay Gateway, in conjunction with Homes England and Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Homes England is progressing the first part of this through its framework at the moment and has committed £70,000 towards the work.

An application has been made to the LEP for £50,000 of funding, which is expected to be approved shortly.

The site formerly home to Mr Smith’s nightclub could be turned into housing as part of the overall development. Torus purchased the site in December 2020.

However, there are no immediate plans to redevelop the land and for the time being it will continue being used as a public car park.

The Warrington town centre masterplan includes a vision for 8,000 new town centre homes by 2040.

Meanwhile, the Bank Quay Gateway proposal comprises a redeveloped and expanded rail station at Bank Quay, possibly combining the West Coast Main Line plus HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and local rail routes with high-level and low-level stations featuring new facilities.

Furthermore, there could be a new ‘rail hub orientated’ redevelopment area comprising a hotel, retail, restaurants and offices – all ‘focused on’ a new Bank Quay station.

A council spokesman said: “The council remains focused on delivering the vision set out in the town centre masterplan, which includes up to 8,000 new homes on brownfield sites.

“The council hopes to deliver the Bank Quay Gateway development when the necessary level of Government and third-party funding is established, which will be preceded by the work currently under way and further commitment from Government in relation to Northern Powerhouse Rail.”

Conservative Warrington South MP Andy Carter is keeping a close eye on the proposals.

He said: “Warrington was one of the first town’s in the UK to secure Government Town Deal funding last year, with more than £22 million to invest in projects to benefit the regeneration of the town centre and grow skills, as well as funding to move the bus depot from its current location so we’ve seen this Government already make a commitment to supporting Warrington town centre.

“As we recover from the pandemic, it’s even more important that we focus our efforts on developing town centre sites to accommodate new affordable housing which are easily accessible to good transport links.

“Bank Quay’s redevelopment is a very exciting opportunity to create a key transport hub for the West Coast Main Line and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

“I’ll be looking to work with the council on a number of further bids for brownfield regeneration funding from Government when the funds become available.

“Of course, it’s not just down to the Government to fund such schemes, we need a mix of public and private sector finance to drive construction jobs and build new infrastructure.”

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