Landowners want big money for Waterfont development

PUBLISHED: 14:36 17 October 2006 | UPDATED: 19:49 01 June 2010

The foyer project, now being built as part of the regeneration scheme

The foyer project, now being built as part of the regeneration scheme

LAND owners standing in the way of the £50 million re-development of the Nene Waterfront have been accused of holding out for unrealistic sums. Confidential documents obtained by the Wisbech Standard provide the outline of Fenland District Council s case

LAND owners standing in the way of the £50 million re-development of the Nene Waterfront have been accused of holding out for unrealistic sums.

Confidential documents obtained by the Wisbech Standard provide the outline of Fenland District Council's case to compulsorily purchase the land it still needs for the project.

In a 30-page "statement of case" the council says it now owns four sites, four have been bought through negotiation but there has been an impasse over the remaining four sites.

"Some owners have no inclination to negotiate other than on unrealistic terms, taking into account the probable costs of remediation, planning policies, provision of infrastructure and site preparation and the market value of property in Wisbech," says the report.

While the council says it will continue to negotiate the land outside the scope of legal forces, the document states: "It is imperative that the order is confirmed by the Secretary of State to ensure that regeneration can be achieved."

The report adds: "The council is firmly of the view that there is a compelling case in the public interest for confirmation of the order."

The council says much of the land it plans to acquire has been derelict and under-utilised as a town asset for over 20 years.

"It was apparent that the land owners had little capacity to develop out the sites and overcome the impediments of contamination," says the report. "Required infrastructure improvements and fragmented ownership with little common purpose could result in the sites remaining in their present redundant state for years to come."

Fenland Council says this is not acceptable and accuse some land owners of not "fully understanding the complexities of remediation or the benefit of a comprehensive approach."

And the council adds: "Other sites have changed hands probably only in order to make a financial return. Unfortunately there is little or no evidence that the private sector sites will be brought forward without public intervention to achieve comprehensive regeneration for the good of the community as a whole.

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