PLANS to redevelop a former colliery into a major rail freight terminal is back on the agenda.

For several years Parkside near Winwick has been kicked into the long grass as those for and against the development battled it out and political promises evaporated.

However, following a joint venture between St Helens council and the property, investment and development company Langtree, they have acquired the freehold and will start work on a development strategy to secure the long term economic benefit of the site.

Council leader Barrie Grunewald, who made jobs and the economy his top priority in his leadership pledge, said: “When I became leader of the council I stated that I was firmly committed to delivering Parkside and believed that I would have failed if there was no movement on this site within 18 months.

“Parkside offers the potential to create thousands of new jobs. This is a prime development site in the north west and offers a unique destination sitting alongside the M6 and the West Coast mainline.

“It is hoped to reinstate the rail link with the mainline to create an inter-modal freight centre.”

Although a timescale has not been placed on the project the council insist that a planning application could be submitted as early as this year.

Clr Grunewald continued: “The Parkside project is now firmly under way and we are all committed to make this a success and deliver the much needed jobs.

“Parkside will become one of the largest projects in Britain and it is one of the most significant in terms of regeneration in the north west.

“The council has received many inquiries regarding development opportunities in recent years but the former owners have not taken the site forward.

“The council worked closely with Langtree on the development of the Saints stadium and I am optimistic that this new partnership will bring new jobs to the site.”

John Downes, chief executive of Langtree, added: “The former Parkside Colliery site is a tremendous development opportunity and we are delighted to have joined forces with the council to bring the site back into beneficial use. ”