SOG planning applications spell out exciting new community vision for Weston and The Heath residents

Weston and The Heath in Runcorn are to be transformed thanks to a series of much-needed community facilities to be developed in a visionary programme unveiled by SOG Group, owner and operator of The Heath Business and Technical Park.

SOG Group has submitted three planning applications to Halton Borough Council as part of its long-term strategy to enhance community facilities at the award-winning business park and to develop exciting new community projects on neighbouring land which the company owns in Heath Road — at the same time underpinning its on-going commitment to jobs and business.

John Lewis, Managing Director of SOG Group, says: “We have a bold and clear vision for the future of the wider Heath locality which will benefit the businesses within Weston and The Heath but most important of all will bring urgently-needed community facilities to an area which has largely been neglected for many years, and that will enrich the area for all of its residents — from young people to senior citizens.

“Since SOG launched The Heath Business and Technical Park in 2000 we have attracted hundreds of businesses here providing thousands of jobs, and we are one of the borough’s key employment resources. However, a critical part of our strategy has been to open up our fantastic facilities to the wider local community — and to demonstrate that we are far more than a traditional business park. These planning applications entirely complement our long-term vision to see Weston and The Heath become a vibrant and attractive area where local residents can benefit from a wide range of exciting new community projects.”

SOG is seeking outline planning permission for:

• A local shop/convenience store which will be located inside the main entrance to the business park off Heath Road and situated on the north end of the current car park serving Progressive House. The intention is for the shop to be open during business hours and evenings to serve people working on the Park and also local residents.

• A retirement village consisting of 46 one-bedroom bungalows including warden accommodation to be created on 11 acres of land to the north of Heath Road. This project has been carefully thought-out involving discussions with Halton Borough Council over the last eight years including studies of the community needs in the area. Following interest from a specialist developer and most recent discussions with the local authority,the profile of housing proposed should be tailored to the independent, active, retired community on the model of a retirement village. Similar developments in the USA and now appearing in the UK provide smaller, fully accessible and independent homes for sale or rent supported by social, and health and welfare facilities, along with provisions for visiting family.

• A Country Club to be situated on the highest point of the land with spectacular views over The Mersey Estuary. This facility, incorporating 30 hotel rooms, a function room and a restaurant, would be ofa similar scale and style of service to Lawson House, the former ICI hotel facility which closed in 2007 and has been sadly missed since then. We believe this ‘Country Club’ concept would appeal to both local residents and to the businesses located in Weston and The Heath.

Mr Lewis says: “We trust local people will see that a great deal of thought and meticulous research has gone into these planning applications to create a fantastic environment for both residents and businesses. We have gone to great lengths to ensure that our proposals are sympathetic to the geography of the region including Runcorn Hill Nature Reserve and its newly opened visitor centre and cafe. A private field,comprising a little over a third of the 11 acre site, will also be opened up to the public as an extension to The Heath playing fields.

“Our overall masterplan for The Heath Business and Technical Park has revolved around commitment to providing employment and facilities to the wider community. This has been demonstrated over the years. A key feature of these applications is our commitment for funds raised in the sale of the land to be wholly directed at maintaining and enhancing not only employment opportunity but also community facilities at the Park and the wider area

“SOG has significantly contributed to the social life of the area including opening our café/restaurant, function rooms, boutique shopping mall and health and fitness facilities at The Heath Business and Technical Park to the local community. Scouts, schools, sports clubs, charities and senior citizens’ organisations have all benefited from being able to access these unique facilities. However, they are still under-used and we are actively working to get the message out there that The Heath IS open to the public not only businesses.

“It is our intention that our convenience store proposal, which will be actually situated on the business park, will re-enforce the message that local people are welcome to come and use all of our facilities which are ideal for all ages.”

“At SOG, we take pride in being good neighbours and since we launched back in 2000we have always taken great care to consult and communicate with local residents about our vision for the Park. We want to work with the local community to ‘manage’ the development of Weston and The Heath. There are sound planning justifications for the developments being proposed but we also fully intend to take into account the interests of the local community. If an outside developer were to undertake a similar project, they may not be as mindful of residents’ views and opinions.”

Published: 15/08/2016

About The Heath

The Heath, which was established as a business park in 2000, has attracted over 175 British and international companies, ranging from bio science firms to IT specialists, from food industry consultants to website designers, and from government agencies to telemarketing specialists. Residents have been attracted by the 60-acre business park's vast range of impressive facilities and its flexibility in space management and in attitude. The Heath offers a wide range of office and laboratory space, together with a purpose-built conference centre that includes a 120-seat lecture theatre. Residents can also choose from a wide selection of additional services, including telephone and broadband connectivity, laboratory support services, scientific glass-blowing and precision engineering facilities, to name but a few. Residents also have access to The Heath's fitness centre and gym. Combined with 1,700 parking spaces, its first-class transport links - and the ability for residents to select and pay for just the services they require - it's no surprise that the number of companies on The Heath is continuing to grow rapidly.

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