JUST two years after gaining planning permission to build a new corporate HQ on the site of Rainhill Hospital, Pilkington have announced that they will be developing their Lakeside base and the Rainhill site is now surplus to their requirements and will be sold off.

The international glass giant first purchased the land in the late 80s after the company underwent a major restructuring programme.

Philip Webb, a corporate affairs spokesman for Pilks told the Star: "It was decided that it simply wasn't practical to stay based at the Alexandra Park site which was really too large for our smaller, more flexible head office.

"As a result, we looked into purchasing a new, smaller site and the area where the former Rainhill Hospital was based was ideal."

St Helens Council granted Pilkington planning permission to build a new corporate headquarters and high quality housing on the site in 1994.

However, last year Pilkington received word that the Alexandra Park site was to receive a Grade Two listing from the National Heritage Department which caused a drastic rethink in their plans, with the company eventually deciding to drop their plans for the Rainhill site.

Philip added: "In light of the listing decision we felt that our head office should continue to be based at the Alexandra Park site and we will now be upgrading and modernising the area to suit our requirements. This means that the Rainhill site is now surplus to our requirements and we now plan to sell both it and the planning permission for the headquarters and housing as well. St Helens Council will receive our full co-operation in attracting suitable buyers for the land and it is hoped that they will be able to bring much needed new businesses and jobs to the area."

The leader of St Helens Council, Dave Watts, commented: "The Authority will give every assistance to Pilkington in helping them market the Rainhill Hospital site to create new jobs. While disappointed that they are not creating a new headquarters, we welcome this new investment in St Helens and the siting of its international HQ which underlines the continuing commitment to the borough."

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