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Fury at delays over £100m+ Worcester revamp
DEVELOPERS behind Worcester's biggest ever revamp have revealed their fury - claiming "tens of millions" of investment into new jobs, homes, leisure and offices is being held up by council chiefs.
Work on the single biggest regeneration scheme Worcester has ever seen should have got underway at the start of this year, with upwards of £100 million being ploughed into overhauling land off Sherriff Street near Shrub Hill railway station.
But your Worcester News can reveal how the grand project, including more than 600 homes, an 80-bed care village for the elderly, cinema, bowling alley, ice skating rink, bars, shops, eateries, 96-bed hotel, gym, 1,000 parking spaces, offices and more, is already at the risk of running at least an entire year late.
The investors behind the massive scheme, who are Worcester-based, have laid the blame squarely at the feet of Worcestershire County Council.
Work on the first of three phases was approved by the city council's planning committee back in September last year, but not a single spade has gone into the ground because County Hall's highways experts need to sign it off first.
Developers Sherriff’s Gate Ltd is ready to overhaul 900,000 sq ft of land and insists it would "start tomorrow" if it could.
The firm also says it has been left "mystified" by the delays and insists it contacted the Worcester News "as a last resort" after becoming so frustrated.
The company also says it has spent more than £500,000 getting planning approval, including £50,000 on sophisticated traffic modelling for the development, but is still waiting on the final green light.
Your Worcester News has been told the reason for the delay is because of concerns over how to resolve traffic congestion.
A spokesman for Sherriff's Gate Ltd said: "We want to get on with it - we have been wanting to crack on for a very long time and it's very frustrating.
"The county council's highways department is holding up millions of pounds of investment, holding up jobs and delaying much needed housing, and we are mystified as to why.
"It is diabolical. We have decided going public is the last resort because we want to know where we stand.
"This is a vital scheme for Worcester and it's a complete and utter farce that as of today we have still not started."
The firm says the hold-up is causing a huge knock-on affect for its business, citing an example of building firm Thomas Vale, which is in negotiations over a contract to create 131 housing units in the first phase of work but is being held up by the wait.
Sherriff's Gate Ltd stresses that the project is not at risk, but it wants the council to finally allow it to start.
The project is being done in three phases and the company was aiming on a 2017 completion date.
The county council says it is working on signing off the scheme as soon as possible, but it is taking time to find ways of resolving "future congestion on this key city centre transport corridor".
A spokesman said: "We're continuing to work on these solutions, which have been put forward by the developer.
"We fully recognise the importance of the project, have prioritised the scheme and will continue to work on an agreed package of measures as soon as possible."
Councillor John Smith, cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: "With such a major application there are always technical things to go through and very complex legal requirements."