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27/Jul/2013 – Secret Council talks re Friary Outer development

posted 27 Jul 2013, 00:57 by Andre Hefer   [ updated 30 Aug 2013, 05:54 ]

LATE UPDATE [30/Aug]:  For the second time in three months public and press have been excluded from a key Council scrutiny meeting. What is going wrong at Friary Outer?

The Friary Outer development comprises a multi-story car park, much needed affordable housing as well as a new hotel (Premier Inn ?), a restaurant and a retail unit. In Apr/2013 a public notice appeared announcing that the project had been delayed. It said:

"Due to unforseen circumstances, the works, which were due to be completed by Friday 29/March/2013, have now been delayed, and the anticipated end date is now Wednesday 11/December/2013"

The District Council’s Friary Outer blog says “We post regular updates about the progress”, but the last update was in April, when no problems were noted. The aerial photographs below show good progress on the affordable housing and multi-storey car park, but not much sign of the hotel.

Then on the 16/Jul/2013 a District Council Scrutiny Committee meeting was called to discuss progress on the Friary Outer & Friarsgate developments. The District Council decided that the public and the press should be excluded from the meeting “by reason of the confidential nature of the business to be transacted.

In Feb/2013 the District Council’s published its medium term financial strategy, which said that borrowings of £1,920,000 are required to finance the Friary Outer car park. If, as appears likely, there will be a delay to the Friarsgate shops, and the multi-story car park next to Debenhams is retained, then residents will have been saddled with a debt for a loss making car park built to service a hotel and a shopping centre, neither of which exist!

We trust that the District Council will follow through on commitments given after the Heritage Parks upgrade fiasco, namely that in future it will do a better job informing the public.

Construction progress Feb/2013 Construction progress July/2013
Friary Outer Feb/2013

Friary Outer Jul/2013
 

We thank Bromford Group for making photographs of the site available on their Flicker feed. photo: © Bromford Group. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.