WISBECH: Council rejects inquiry after collapse of partnership with Taylor Wimpey over Nene
FENLAND Council has rejected calls for an inquiry into its decision to mothball the £50 million Nene Waterfront Development in Wisbech follow the collapse of the partnership with Taylor Wimpey. The call for an inquiry came from Cambridgeshire county counc
FENLAND Council has rejected calls for an inquiry into its decision to mothball the £50 million Nene Waterfront Development in Wisbech follow the collapse of the partnership with Taylor Wimpey.
The call for an inquiry came from Cambridgeshire county council Peter Humphrey, head of a prominent firm of planning agents in Wisbech, who fears £2 million allocated to the scheme by the Housing Corporation for social housing could be lost.
He told Council Leader Geoff Harper: "Could you please advise me whether Fenland Council will hold an inquiry into this?".
Cllr Humphrey wants to know why the development will not now happen and "why there were no guarantees and who was accountable for this?"
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However Cllr Harper has hit back, claiming he can see no reason for holding an inquiry "as the Cabinet is fully appraised of the situation and has endorsed the way forward to achieve its original objectives."
He said both the council and their partners "are totally focused on delivering this important project and as a prominent businessman in the town, the council hopes that Mr Humphrey shares this vision."
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He denied the £2 million had been lost but has been "sensibly re-allocated" and the money is expected to be there once the building industry picks up again.
Cllr Harper said: "The council and its funding partners in this project fully expect a successful re-allocation of the funding from the Housing Corporation once national economic conditions make it viable for our development partner to begin housing construction. "To infer otherwise, would be unwarranted and mischievous."
He added: "The current economic conditions, not just in Britain, but across the world, are having an adverse effect on the housing market her in the UK. It is a measure of that market downturn that even the largest house builder in the country - Taylor Wimpey - is having to consider closely its house building programme.
"We are still in discussions with Taylor Wimpey about the future development of the Nene Waterfront.
"However, regardless of the outcome of those discussions, the Council, EEDA and English Partnerships are agreed that it is sensible and financially prudent to continue with our development programme as an important comprehensive regeneration approach is one that will ultimately deliver the best deal for the people of Wisbech and Fenland as a whole."
Cllr Harper says Fenland Council will be completing the remediation of the contaminated land to ensure the house building site is clean and ready "for our preferred developer to begin work as soon as the economic conditions are again favourable. The Boathouse Business Centre is near completion and will be open for business in October 2008 and the council has committed to completing the marine elements of the regeneration programme.
"Our holistic approach to regenerating this long-derelict area of Wisbech is infinitely better than allowing small pieces of land to be bought and sold for quick commercial gain with little consideration for the regeneration potential of the land and the riverside as a whole.
"After all, it was the piecemeal commercial approach which has been responsible for the land laying derelict for more than 30 years to the detriment of the town.