BRIDGWATER NEWS: Retail plans to be announced early next year for Northgate
SEDGEMOOR District Council and Somerset County Council have for some time been working together on the Northgate site at Bridgwater.
The first phase of the project has delivered Northgate Primary School which opened its doors for the new autumn term in September.
The two councils have also agreed a conditional contract with a third-party retailer on the former Enterprise Centre area, adjacent to the new school, and it is anticipated that a planning application will be submitted in early 2018 for that part of the site.
With regard to the remainder of the site, the public car park and former Splash site at Mount Street – the overall Masterplan agreed in November 2015, showed provision for leisure facilities incorporating a cinema complex with associated food and beverage outlets, car parking and a reconfigured Brewery Field.
Guided by the requirements of the masterplan, three suitable bids from investors were received to develop the Mount Street element of the Northgate project for leisure purposes which additionally suggested provision for a gym and a hotel.
The councils were satisfied that all the bidders were capable of delivering the development. However, it was felt that the full financial benefit of the schemes being developed was not reflected in the value of the land or in the profit-share arrangements being proposed, therefore, both councils agreed to not accept any bids for the Mount Street site at this stage.
Related to this decision and given that grant funding from central Government will cease in 2019, councils across the country have to find different ways of raising money to support the services that it provides to residents.
Sedgemoor District Council is adopting a more ‘commercial’ approach to its investments and at a full meeting of the authority on August 30, 2017, it was agreed to investigate the potential for the project to be financed and developed by the councils themselves.
This would mean that the councils would keep the ownership of the land and retain the profits relating to the development.
To enable this approach to move forward, Somerset County Council has agreed to sell its interest in the site to Sedgemoor, thus letting Sedgemoor alone to pursue a self-financed development of the leisure scheme.
Sedgemoor District Council is now preparing to notify the development industry of its intentions through the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) process.
Further details of progress on the Northgate project will be made in late October 2017.
PHOTO - ABOVE: An aerial photo of the site with "new primary school site" having already been developed with the new Northgate Primary School.