THE Bargates development in Burton town centre is now in public ownership after three years of drawn out legal negotiations.
East Staffordshire Borough Council has confirmed it now fully owns the High Street site, formerly occupied by a shopping precinct and the bowling alley which closed in 2007.
Supermarket giant Tesco bought the site and planned to build its new superstore there but after a series of legal and property wrangles, it agreed to sell the land to the council in 2010 when a decision was made to build in Hawkins Lane.
As reported in yesterday’s Mail, the supermarket has now come to an agreement with Molson Coors over access to Hawkins Lane.
The ownership of the site was split between Tesco and the borough council, who successfully negotiated heads of terms with Tesco to purchase its portion of site.
Councillor Richard Grosvenor, leader of the council, said: “I’m delighted that the council now has full control of the Bargates site. It’s been a lengthy process but having full ownership will allow the council to provide a solution which will benefit our residents and businesses.”
Prior to completion of the acquisition, the council negotiated with Tesco to gain access to the site and bulldoze the derelict buildings.
Following the demolition of the site, the council decided to grass Bargates while it sought a developer to regenerate the area.
In 2009, the council commissioned a report detailing three design solutions and were put to public consultation. The preferred mixed use option includes the potential for small ground floor shops with offices, a mix of family homes and offices, Riverside residential apartments, a cafe and sufficient parking.
Councillor Richard Grosvenor added: “It is now easier for potential developers to gain a feel for the size of the site, to understand its potential, and how it can link between the high street and the river. This is a new beginning for a site which sits on a key route into the town centre.”
THE STORY SO FAR
MAY 2005: The Mail exclusively reveals that the council has lined up a deal with Tesco, which would see Bargates turned into a giant Tesco Extra store.
NOVEMBER 2008: A Tesco plan to build nine glass-fronted retail units on the site is unanimously rejected by council planners after the scheme is branded as “unimaginative”.
DECEMBER 1, 2009: Three options are listed for Bargates’ future: a residential-led redevelopment, a retail-led redevelopment or a mixture of both.
MAY 30, 2010: Tesco indicates a willingness to relinquish the site. Proposals are put forward for a mix of retail, office and residential buildings, including a hotel overlooking the River Trent.
JUNE 3, 2010: Tesco erects large wooden boards to screen the eyesore from public view.
JUNE 15, 2010: East Staffordshire Borough Council announces its intention to appoint a developer by the end of 2010.
SEPTEMBER 21, 2010: Tesco’s board of directors agrees the sale of Bargates site to East Staffordshire Borough Council for £4 million.
APRIL 12, 2011: Tesco given permission for superstore in Hawkins Lane.
FEBRUARY 2 2012: Demolition begins at Bargates
MAY 28, 2012: Council announces Bargates will be turned into a ‘village green’
JULY 4 2012: Council erects ‘The Bargates Job’ on the site
FEBRUARY 21, 2013: Council announces it has full ownership of Bargates and it is up for sale - maintaining the preferred mix use option in a bid to attract developers