Burton Civic Society has slammed the £20 million housing project at Bargates as "entirely inappropriate" for its "unique riverside location" in a scathing attack on the scheme.

The Society has launched a formal objection to the project - Burton's biggest town centre regeneration plan for many years - after protesting at its lack of entertainment provision.

Society members describe Bargates as an "architecturally mediocre, bland and unambitious" scheme which will fail to stimulate the night-time economy and attract abuse and anti-social behaviour.

A sale sign is still in place at Bargates

Applicants Jessup Build Development have chosen not to comment to the society until the end of the consultation period on January 31 to assess all comments from interested parties.

£20m Bargates development in Burton will see houses replace parking

The proposal would see the seven-acre Bargates site, off High Street, Burton, turned into 140 homes comprising 72 sheltered apartments, 24 private apartments and 44 houses. There will be two shops and the construction of vehicle access.

A masterplan of the proposed layout shows car parking for both Meadowside Leisure Centre car parks will be affected with the number of spaces reducing from 179 to 141.

The long-awaited planning application has been finally submitted to East Staffordshire Borough Council, who will rule on the future of the scheme.

New masterplan shows the location of the Meadowside Leisure Centre car parks

But now Burton Civic Society has sent its objections to the council’s planning chiefs and to the Burton Mail.

In the objection, a report provided by the Society's planning chairman Mick Clifford said: "While the proposal is worthy and would be welcome almost anywhere else in town, it is entirely inappropriate for this unique riverside location and gateway to the town centre.

"The Bargates site offers the most significant town centre regeneration opportunity for many years. The local plan and supplementary strategic policy documents recognise this, specifying aims of achieving ‘[the]…highest quality development’ and ‘a mix of uses that restore activity along the High Street and create a new active frontage to the riverside.' This proposal does not deliver on any of these aims.

Bargates was flattened in 2012 and turned into a 'village green'

"The ‘Growth Point’ Programme for Burton envisages a step-change in economic performance. With large numbers of new housing south of the town, it is important that the town centre ‘offer’ is enhanced to attract residents in these new developments, who with easy access via the A38 to facilities in Birmingham, Derby, Nottingham and Leicester, may otherwise treat the area as a dormitory town.

"In summary, our objections are as follows:

  • The proposal delivers no new economic opportunities for the town.
  • The development proposed is inappropriate for the location.
  • It fails to capitalise on the regeneration potential of a unique town centre and riverside site.
  • Far from achieving a mix of uses that will contribute to a vibrant town centre, this predominantly residential development (of which half is sheltered housing) will produce an inactive frontage.
  • With little activity likely after dark it will do nothing to stimulate the night-time economy.
  • The proposal does not meet the ‘exemplary high quality development’ specified in the adopted Local Plan.
  • It is architecturally mediocre, bland and unambitious.
  • The proposed linear park and performance area would be fine for a mixed-use development, but in a residential development it will be vulnerable to abuse and anti-social behaviour (reference the similar area at the rear of the library).
  • The proposal does nothing to make the town more attractive to residents or visitors.
  • The proposal includes no leisure or entertainment facilities for the younger generation."

Originally a shopping centre, Bargates’ last remaining business, Superbowl 2000, closed in 2007 to enable Tesco to build a superstore in its place. However, the borough council rejected the supermarket chain's proposal over traffic concerns. Tesco later moved its application to Hawkins Lane, but axed its plans due to financial struggles.

The site was finally demolished in 2011 and has since become a ‘village green’.

Time Line

Burton's Bargates

  1. MARCH 2004

    Council admits the Riverside Leisure Centre, known as Bargates, had become an embarrassment with just a few units open, including Superbowl 200 which still had 14 years on its lease and had 'no desire to move'.

  2. SEPTEMBER 2004

    The council reveals a cafe quarter plan for Bargates with accommodation, bars, cafe and a hotel.

  3. 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. The deal in principle included Tesco paying the council £8 million towards the cost of a new leisure centre to replace the Meadowside, which would have been demolished under the plans.

  4. AUGUST 2007

    One of the last remaining units on Riverside, Indian restaurant Manzil, moves to the former Ocean nightclub, off Guild Street, where it remains to this day.

  5. AUGUST 19, 2007

    Superbowl 2000 closes to make way for the Tesco development. At the time Superbowl owner Jerry Hodges said he was keen to relocate and was looking for a site in Burton.

  6. DECEMBER 2007

    The council pulls out of a deal with Tesco to demolish the neighbouring Meadownside Leisure Centre due to sky-rocketing costs. An application for the Riverside Centre is still expected to be submitted.

  7. FEBRUARY 2008

    Arsonists strike at former Superbowl 2000.

  8. 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".

  9. DECEMBER 1, 2009

    Three options are listed for Bargates' future: a residential-led redevelopment, a retail-led redevelopment or a mixture of both.

  10. MAY 30, 2010

    Tesco indicates a willingness to relinquish the site and move to the former Condor site, which never came to fruition. Proposals are put forward for a mix of retail, office and residential buildings, including a hotel overlooking the River Trent.

  11. JUNE 3, 2010

    Tesco installs large wooden boards to screen the eyesore from public view.

  12. JUNE 15, 2010

    East Staffordshire Borough Council announces its intention to appoint a developer by the end of 2010.

  13. SEPTEMBER 21, 2010

    Tesco's board of directors agrees the sale of the site to East Staffordshire Borough Council for £4 million.

  14. APRIL 12, 2011

    Meanwhile, Tesco is given permission for a superstore in Hawkins Lane. This plan never came to fruition after financial difficulties led Tesco to put the site up for sale.

  15. FEBRUARY 2, 2012

    Demolition begins at the Bargates site.

  16. MAY 28, 2012

    The council announces Bargates will be turned into a 'village green'.

  17. JULY 4 2012

    The council puts up 'The Bargates Job' on the site.

  18. FEBRUARY 21, 2013

    The council announces it has full ownership of Bargates and it is up for sale – maintaining the preferred mixed use option in a bid to attract developers.

  19. JULY 15, 2014

    Councillors reveal plans to spend part of a £1.5 million grant on making Bargates more attractive. It came after work started to improve the appearance of shops opposite, to show the authority was keen to regenerate High Street.

  20. MAY 2015

    Councillor Richard Grosvenor, leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council, said the authority was hoping to work in partnership with other agencies to bring sheltered housing to the site.

  21. JANUARY 2016

    A major developer is in talks to buy Bargates but discussions break down in March.

  22. AUGUST 2016

    Contractors were spotted drilling on the site to ascertain the site's development costs.

  23. SEPTEMBER 2016

    It is revealed a deal has been struck for offices and extra-care facilities on Bargates.

  24. AUGUST 2017

    Developer Jessup Build Develop reveals a planning application could be submitted in September.

  25. December 2017

    Jessup Build Develop submit planning application to East Staffordshire Borough Council

  26. January 2018

    Jessup Build Develop hold public consultation at Meadowside Leisure Centre. Burton Civic Society formally objects to the proposals