Ambitious plans to turn a derelict gas works into new homes and leisure facilities in Nantwich will get the go-ahead thanks to government backing confirmed by Housing Minister Brandon Lewis today (26 March 2015).
The St Anne’s Lane Gasworks has stood derelict for a quarter of a century and has been used by the town as a car park for the local community.
But today, Mr Lewis confirmed that he was waiving repayment of a £400,000 bill to enable Cheshire East council to put forward a scheme creating new homes, leisure facilities and jobs.
Waiving the bill
Housebuilding is an important part of the government’s long-term economic plan.
That includes reforming the planning system to give priority to brownfield sites for new development, and maintaining strong safeguards for the green belt.
Part of Nantwich’s historic core, the site at St Anne’s Lane was the town gasworks from around 1877 until the 1970s.
The initial works to improve the site were completed in 1988 and the council at the time attempted to dispose of it, but further remediation work was needed and the additional costs to bring the land to a desirable state were too much so the site remained with the council.
This means the site has been stalled since 1989 – and a condition of the original £400,000 Derelict Land Grant meant Cheshire East council faced the prospect of having to pay the money back to central government.
However, today Mr Lewis confirmed he is waiving this bill, to enable work at St Anne’s Lane to start as early as 2016. Cheshire East Council will now start to work with developers on plans to use the site to build new homes and leisure facilities as well as improve access to the river bank.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:
St Anne’s Lane should be a real draw for local people, offering places to live and meet. Instead, it’s stood derelict for a quarter of a century, offering nothing more than somewhere to park.
So I’m pleased to make this common sense decision and waive a £400,000 bill, so Cheshire East Council can get on and start work on the site, delivering homes and other leisure facilities.
Caroline Simpson, Executive Director of Economic Development at Cheshire East council said:
This is excellent news and rewards the hard work put in by the council’s wholly-owned company Engine of the North to see the issues surrounding this Brownfield site resolved and a scheme developed which is acceptable to all.
This is a very prominent and sustainable site close to the town centre and clearly any development will need to complement the town centre of Nantwich and address the parking needs of residents and shoppers, it needs to be the best fit for the town.
We look forward to getting plans in place so that work can begin at the earliest opportunity.
The St Anne’s gasworks were cleared and a partial clean up carried out in 1988 using a £409,042 Derelict Land Grant to the Borough of Crewe and Nantwich council (now Cheshire East) from central government.
This was to be repaid by the council when the land was developed but further work was needed to clean the site and prepare it for development. The additional cost of these works, together with the liability to repay the Derelict Land Grant meant that the land remained with the council.