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Council bids for legal powers to buy Waterside land

Published on Thursday, November 17, 2016

LEICESTER City Council has made a bid for legal powers to buy land in an area earmarked for an £80milllion redevelopment scheme.

A detailed case for the compulsory purchase order (CPO) of land and property in the proposed Waterside regeneration area, has been submitted to the Government for consideration. 

CPOs can be used by local authorities to assemble land for complex regeneration projects which are in the public interest, particularly those which involve multiple land ownerships.

The Waterside CPO will be an essential step in bringing forward an ambitious first phase of regeneration in this part of the city. This will focus on largely under-utilised industrial land to the west of the A50, between the Grand Union Canal and Friars Mill, including Soar Island. The plans will help transform the 17-acre site into a thriving neighbourhood with new homes, modern office space and better access to the city’s riverside.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Compulsory purchase orders can only be used as a last resort, but they are a vital tool in bringing forward major regeneration schemes that benefit the whole city.

“The Waterside area has suffered badly in recent decades, with the closure of key industries leaving many sites neglected and underused. Its regeneration represents a tremendous opportunity for the city’s growth and prosperity.

“We are determined to move forward with our vision to transform this important part of the city. The CPO is the next critical step to help make this happen.”

Over the last 18 months, the city council has worked hard to obtain land by agreement. So far, the council has acquired around three quarters of the land and property needed through negotiated agreements. A further six sales have been in agreed in principle, and are expected to be completed in the coming weeks.

This leaves just seven plots of land and properties that may ultimately need to be acquired through CPO powers before development can begin.

The council’s submission of its case for CPO will begin a formal process leading to a public inquiry likely to take place in spring 2017. A decision would then be another three to four months in coming.

If the CPO is confirmed, the city council could take vacant possession of the site by late 2017, when work is expected to begin on site.

The city council has recently appointed Keepmoat Ltd as its development partner for the Waterside regeneration project.

Keepmoat’s scheme will deliver over 300 new homes and 5,500sqm of office space, along with new parks and green space, and bring an anticipated £45milllion of private investment into the area.

Keepmoat will be obliged to complete at least 100 new homes and over 1,850sqm of new office space, along with all required infrastructure, by 2020. It is anticipated that the entire first phase of Waterside regeneration could be complete by the end of 2023.

Although used rarely in Leicester, CPOs of this nature have been instrumental in major regeneration schemes including the Highcross development, City Challenge and the construction of the original Shires Shopping Centre.

A resolution to use CPO powers to bring forward the Waterside regeneration project was made by full council at its meeting in April 2016.

The city council has earmarked £15milllion of capital funding to help kick-start the transformation of the Waterside area. The Leicester and Leicester Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) also successfully bid for £20million form the Government’s Local Growth Fund to support the major regeneration project.

Full details of the city council’s submission to the Secretary of State are available to view at www.leicester.gov.uk/waterside