DELIVERING affordable homes for young people and reopening discussions around a town centre university campus are top priorities for the chair of a key committee.

Cllr Tom Jennings (LAB – Bewsey and Whitecross), who chairs the supporting the local economy policy committee, has outlined four key 'ambitions' he believes could generate further growth in the town.

They comprise starter or affordable homes for young people, a digital hub in Warrington, discussions around a university campus in the town centre and transforming the gateways into the borough.

He said: "I am absolutely delighted to be in the role, after only two years on the council.

"I don’t take this role as chair of the committee for granted, I feel privileged to be elected by my peers to this position.

"I was born in Warrington and want to see it thrive.

"My frustration while sitting on the committee, and reason for standing for chair, was that not a single policy had come from the committee in the last two years.

"This policy committee has got to be an engine room for ideas.

"Unfortunately, we don’t get to make decisions but help make decisions of cabinet members much easier."


Cllr Jennings hailed the progress on Time Square and the 'organic growth' of the Cultural Quarter, as well as the new properties coming forward.

Warrington Guardian: The Parr Hall in the Cultural Quarter

The cultural quarter

But he insists looking into affordable and starter homes for young professionals is a 'necessity'.

He said: "My intention is to look at the city-makers – the young professionals who are born here, went to school and started work here but, currently, move on elsewhere to start their lives.

"It’s about understanding the offers of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield but developing how we can raise the bar so that young professionals consider Warrington as an upcoming and unique destination.

"I don’t want young Warringtonians to be locked out of living in their own town.

"I want the council and partners to consider building developments that are for young professionals who were born in this town, so the city-makers have somewhere where their hometown can become their home."


And Cllr Jennings was keen to highlight the need for a digital hub in the town.

He said: "We have been talking about a digital hub for years, the potential for it to help start-ups and nurture entrepreneurship is incredible.

"A lot of people are committed to it and there are some great examples across the north west, so it’s about sewing those aspirations together and exploring what the council can do to help build a business case for a digital hub.

"It is about building a city life ethos that will bring those city-makers to Warrington and help with its growth."

And he wants Town Hall chiefs to put discussions around a town centre university campus, as well as the transformation of gateways into the borough, firmly on the agenda.

He said: "This is not something I want to bring forward purely to discuss it – let’s harness previous discussions into the work programme and invite bodies who have worked on developing university sites that are now operating and thriving.

"What better way to support the local economy than to have students taking part-time jobs and, crucially, spending their money in our local shops, as opposed to in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield?

"Students help build their town centres.

"I think all Labour councillors are excited for the vision for Warrington.

"But it is really important to have cross-party discussions too."


On the topic of the gateways, he added: "How does Warrington look to people coming into the town at motorway junctions and at our rail links?

"How can we best sell Warrington to visitors?

"That is something which is really important to me.

Warrington Guardian: Walton Hall and Gardens

Walton Hall

"When someone is coming here for tourism, to see Walton Gardens for example, or to head to Time Square, how are we making sure we are selling Warrington from the start?

"In Manchester, there is always a crane in the sky and you always feel like it’s growing and thriving, it’s exciting.

“Warrington isn’t Manchester, I understand that, but there are lots of things going on which make people look up and feel proud of Warrington – and excited at what’s coming next for Cheshire’s largest town.

"That’s why we need a proper brand and identity to showcase what we have to offer."