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Penketh Masterplan Concerns

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019 6:33am

By Aran Dhillon - Local Democracy Reporter

Residents ‘lulled into a false sense of security’ over the Penketh masterplan are calling for answers.

The mooted masterplan could see a significant cash injection to regenerate the area around Honiton Way, including the library, pool and community centre.

However, residents are growing increasingly frustrated due to a lack of progress over the potential scheme.

During last week’s libraries partnership board meeting, it was stated that Warrington Borough Council (WBC) officers are currently waiting to hear back from Penketh Parish Council over its preferred option for the area.

But parish council chairman Derek Baker says it will ‘happily consider’ any partnership proposals from WBC.

Mary Ross, a member of the Friends of Penketh Library Group, is calling on Town Hall chiefs to provide firm clarity over their vision for the area.

She said: “For two years, since WBC and LiveWire proposed library closures, followed by a rethink by Steven Broomhead’s working group, we in Penketh have been lulled into a false sense of security by the ‘promise’ of a masterplan that would future-proof our library.”

Plans to incorporate a cafe at Penketh Library by bringing Snoutwood Trotters to the site have been scrapped due to it costing up to £128,500.

It comes as improvements to Stockton Heath Library totalling £170,000, which are set to begin in April, edge closer.

Mrs Ross added: “Another working group formed to find a business partner and what seemed like the perfect solution was put forward by Snoutwood Trotters, who offered to meet some of the conversion costs.

“Now we are told that the cost to be met by WBC is too high but it seems they can afford to give Stockton Heath £170,000 to meet their needs.

“This puts Penketh Library back to square one and we need a decision soon.

“We are very disappointed.”

But the council insists the libraries partnership board – which is partly tasked with ensuring the town’s library services are sustainable – is continuing to work on a ‘viable solution’ for Penketh Library.

A spokesman emphasised the board carefully considered the proposals to incorporate a café at the library but found there were ‘major financial obstacles’ to delivering the scheme.

He added: “The projected costs of £128,500 are a minimum and could be higher.

“These costs would be added to the costs of improving the condition of the building, meaning the whole project could cost in excess of £280,000.

“The board does not consider this to be a viable option, due to the significant amount of funding required, and the risks involved.

“As with all the borough’s libraries, we are committed to delivering a sustainable future for Penketh.

“It is vital that each library project is underpinned by a robust, realistic business case, and we will be working with the Friends of Penketh Library and the parish council, to achieve this.”

Mr Baker is among those in the area hoping for speedy progress between the parish council and WBC.

He says: “The concept of a masterplan for the Honiton Way area was discussed in the recent past with WBC in an attempt to redevelop the privately-owned Honiton Way shops with the council facilities, WBC confirmed this was not attainable due to a lack of interest from private land owners.

“Penketh Parish Council is keen to improve the parish pool and community centre and surrounding area and have made it clear that the parish council will happily consider any partnership proposals from WBC in delivering their statutory responsibilities.”

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