08:00 Friday 10 January 2014

'Previous failures' concern over future of Bargates

Written byROB SMYTH

‘NOBODY wants to see a repeat of previous failures’ were the words used by council chiefs as they revealed they were still trying to sell an area that was once described as the worst eyesore in Burton.

East Staffordshire Borough Council revealed that selling land that was once home to the Bargates development was one of its priorities, after it admitted it had not been able to find an interested buyer for the site.

The land was put up for sale last February, six years after a shopping precinct and bowling alley closed in 2007.

A spokesman for the council said: “We have been working on development plans for the site at Bargates.

“Nobody wants to see a repeat of previous failures.

“Therefore, it is vital that this important site is developed to an appropriate quality (both in terms of the building design and the quality of the developer) in a way that secures its long-term, viable future.

“We are hopeful that the strengthening of market conditions radiate to East Staffordshire and bring development delivery closer.

“We predicted that the weak economic climate would present a challenge in starting work on site, which is why we completed the demolition and grassed the site in 2012. This vastly improved the visual aspect of the area.

“Presently, we are working to identify additional funding opportunities to kick-start the delivery of infrastructure, which is needed to progress the mixed-use development scheme, and expect some more news on this later this year.”

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 instead in Hawkins Lane.

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, the council decided to grass the area while it sought a developer to regenerate the area.

In 2009, the council commissioned a report detailing three design solutions which were put out 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 parking.

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