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A public consultation into outline plans for a £20 million development in Skelmersdale town centre has revealed strong support for the scheme, with more than 80 per cent of respondents in favour of the proposals.

Approximately 200 people attended three public consultation events held in April to gain feedback on the proposals for a new five-screen cinema, 26,000 sq ft of new restaurants and shops, a food store with associated parking and dramatically improved and extended public spaces.

A total of 134 pieces of written feedback were submitted at the exhibitions and online at a dedicated website. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive with 84.33% stating that they were in favour of the proposals and just 5.22% not in favour (10.45% did not answer the question).

When asked if the facilities proposed in the scheme would make them more likely to visit the town centre, 76.12% answered yes and 3.73% said no (20.15% did not answer the question).

The events were held by the UK’s leading regeneration specialist St. Modwen, which is working closely with West Lancashire Borough Council (WLBC) and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to evolve plans for a new town centre in Skelmersdale.

Key to the proposals are plans to create new links between the proposed development and existing elements of the town centre such as The Concourse shopping centre and West Lancashire College.

Michelle Taylor, regional director at St. Modwen, said: “The public exhibitions were very encouraging, showing a high level of support for the proposals we have brought forward. We were particularly pleased to see the number of ideas and opinions which local people put forward about the potential look, feel and uses of the public spaces included in the plans. Creating dynamic links between the existing town centre and the new facilities is a fundamental part of what we want to achieve in Skelmersdale.

“The consultation activity has provided us with substantial food for thought and we are continuing to evolve the plans and it is hoped that a planning application will be submitted in the near future.”

Deborah McLaughlin, Executive Director for the North West at the HCA said: “It’s great that the consultation has fuelled such positive interest from the local community and that the majority of people are in favour of the exciting and evolving plans to rejuvenate Skelmersdale town centre.

“It’s thanks to the dedication and long-term commitment from both partners and residents that this scheme looks set to become a reality.”

The proposals represent £20 million of investment into the town and would create approximately 350 jobs.