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Plans for a major regeneration of Skelmersdale town centre have reached a milestone after the planning application on the multi-million pound development was submitted this week.

The announcement follows the news that the scheme received strong support from the public during a recent consultation on the plans, which represent some £20 million of investment in the town.

The application has been submitted by the UK’s leading regeneration specialist St. Modwen, which has been working closely with West Lancashire Borough Council (WLBC) and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) on the plans for the first phase of a new town centre development for Skelmersdale.

The scheme, which could create approximately 350 jobs, has plans to include a five-screen cinema complex and 26,000 sq ft of new restaurants and shops to bring a new lively night-time economy to the town, a 30,000 sq ft food store with associated parking, a petrol filling station, dramatically improved and extended public spaces and links to and improvements within the Tawd Valley.

Following positive public support at recent consultations, only minimal alterations have been made to the original plan, such as a change to the location of the petrol filling station. Ideas from the public on linkage were also taken into account. St. Modwen has now submitted its planning application in outline and will continue to work in consultation with the local community, and reflect further feedback in a more detailed application at a later date.

The proposal is expected 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. A sweeping promenade terrace is proposed in order to link the state-of-the-art college campus with The Concourse and a new public square to enhance the setting around the existing Nye Bevan swimming pool and library. There are also plans for a new youth zone, which is part of a Lancashire County Council initiative that aims to provide more facilities for young people in the town.

As part of the plans new public spaces could feature street-lighting, paving, street furniture and new tree planting, as well as dramatically improved views of the surrounding natural beauty of the Tawd Valley for south-facing units. A new high quality children’s play park is expected to be delivered alongside enhancement to and improved access through the Tawd Valley Park.

Michelle Taylor, regional director at St. Modwen, said: “The feedback we received during the public consultation was extremely helpful, and has played a large part in the evolution of the plans. The participation of the local community has really supported the efforts of the partners, who have worked hard to keep the plans alive throughout the recession. The submission of the planning application marks the next step forward in the process.”

Commenting on the Youth Zone, Mark Perks, cabinet member for Young People, said: “It’s great to be a part of plans for the regeneration of Skelmersdale’s town centre. We are determined to deliver first class services for West Lancashire’s young people, which is why we are committed to creating this state-of-the-art Youth Zone.”

A decision is expected on the planning application later this year.