What’s Going On in Bridge Street? – Warrington Borough Council’s Compulsory Purchase Order

It’s taken me quite a long time to unravel the 148 pages of Warrington Borough Council’s Compulsory Purchase Order for development on Bridge Street, but what it appears to boil down to is the following:

The Council is calling on its powers under Section 226 (1) (a) and Section 226 (3) (a) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) and Section 13 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

Section 226 (1) (a) gives rights to a local authority, on being authorised to do so by the Secretary of State, to compulsorily purchase any land in their area if the LA thinks that by doing so it will make easier the carrying out of ‘development, redevelopment or improvement on or in relation to the land’.

Section 226 (3) (a) gives rights to a local authority, on being authorised to do so by the Secretary of State, to compulsorily purchase any land adjoining the land purchased under Section 226 (1) which is required for carrying out works which will make development or use of the land purchased under Section 226 (1) easier.

Section 13 enables the LA, on being authorised by a Minister of the Crown, to acquire ‘new rights’ that they themselves specify, over the land compulsorily purchased.

(My italics.)

So. The CPO describes 11 rights that the Council wishes to acquire for the following purposes:

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What’s Going On in Warrington??

It’s inevitable I suppose, seeing the way my life’s going at the moment – or should that be ‘not going’ – that no sooner do I feel I’ve wrestled the latest obstacle in the way of working towards a PhD into manageable proportions, than another one crops up in its place.

I wrote the previous post last week and left it on my computer until I could find a space to add in some links. (This also helps with the typos. Being trained to spot them doesn’t stop you making them; it just annoys you even more.) While I was looking for something aposite for the Bridge Street Quarter development Google threw up an article at the local paper, the Warrington Guardian.

It seems to be implying that, as part of the development, the Council is making draconian use of its powers to compulsory purchase most of Bridge Street. Now, to my mind, you don’t compulsory purchase a building unless you’re planning to do something the owners are probably going to object to – like knocking most of it down?? – so this is immediately ringing alarm bells.

More Google searches found the Compulsory Purchase Order offered for consultation on the Council’s website and a‘final’ CPO buried somewhere in its depths, but the Order Maps referred to, outlining the buildings, that would make things clearer, aren’t attached to either. It needs going through in detail but, at nearly 150 pages, I haven’t yet had time. First impressions, though, are that they’re making a clean sweep on the relevant side of Bridge Street.

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Fugitive Time and Shopping in Warrington

Just back from a shopping trip to Warrington, on which more another time, but it reminded me that I haven’t posted on this blog for a while. Life has been getting in the way rather too much for the actual life I am trying to lead – researching, gardening, writing, with innumerable breaks for tea, cake and a middlebrow novel – and I need to get myself back on track.

I decided some time ago that work on my book had become bogged down and that I was merely amassing piles of information as I followed some interesting side-trail. What I needed was Focus and it seemed that the best way of doing this was to turn my book into a research proposal and embark upon a PhD. (As you do.) As each stage of my academic career has been marked by some ridiculously over the top life crisis I was rather reluctant to set the wheels of Fate in motion once more, but went ahead and made enquiries anyway. (Ave, etc. etc.)

Amazingly, I found the right chap at the right place first crack out of the bag but the difficulty now is in finding time for the interview. All my MA work is on obsolete technology (anyone remember those little hard rectangular ‘disks’?) and my potential supervisor, though gratifyingly interested in the research outline I sent, naturally wants to see some academic bona fides beforehand. Earlier in the year, I decided that the way forward was to write some More and Better essays but am now (obviously) looking back at such gay innocence (1930s sense) with the hollow laugh of a Bertram Wooster caught sans Jeeves.

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Regenerating Bridge Street – Warrington’s New Market Hall?

I recently came across a news item on the Warrington Guardian website, dated 3 October 2013, which claimed to show the design for the new Market Hall. This was a large glass shed fronting directly onto Bridge Street, between Dolman’s Lane and Hall’s Yard, engulfing the Grade II listed Howard Building and replacing four other shops. The building over the archway to Hall’s Yard had been removed and replaced by an open access route.

I found other items in local newspaper websites across the region, dated the same day, so there must have been a general press release. There was also a similarly dated bulletin on the council’s website.

According to this, only four weeks had been set aside for the public consultation and, as we stopped taking the local paper when the advertising space started to exceed the news items, I had missed it all at the time.

It was not really what I had been hoping for: the over dominant frontage, the strange embedding of a listed building in a glass structure, the replacement of five individual shops with a single huge block, the destruction of the distinctive character of Hall’s Yard, and the further breaking up of Bridge Street’s historical character – a continuous line punctuated with archways. And why was it suddenly going to be on Bridge Street, when all the plans in the documentation on the council’s website showed it as behind the Conservation Area?

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Bridge Street Quarter Regeneration – Retail Space and the Masterplan Framework

Warrington Market

Executive Summary – Key Outputs

To recap – the Masterplan identifies three phases of development:

Phase One
A food store of 6,800sqm (2,600sqm at mezzanine level); a market of 4,356sqm; retail space of 6,270sqm; offices totalling 1,093sqm. An underground car park with 555 parking spaces (200 for food store). Sixty apartments.

Phase Two
A new hotel/JJB/offices/residential block; additional retail space of 1,425sqm; additional offices totalling 4,353 sqm. An additional eighty-five apartments.

Phase Three
A further ninety apartments.

Analysis – Retail Space totalling 7,695sqm

When Warrington became a New Town in 1968 its Development Corporation specifically encouraged the building of out of town retail areas accessed by new roads. The Gemini retail park, in particular, to the north-west of Warrington, today draws significant numbers of potential shoppers away from the town centre.

A Retail and Leisure Study (appendicesprepared for Warrington Borough Council in July 2006, identified the town centre’s main weakness as lack of diversity with 47% of the current shops being mainstream chain stores. Although the number of chain stores present is taken as an indicator of success in assessments of a town’s ‘health’, this does not take into consideration the needs of local small businesses and independent traders or that section of the community which prefers to support them.

Rents in Warrington were around £1,400 per square metre per year in 2006 which the report concludes ‘compares favourably’ with other towns in the region. In real terms, however, the independent retail trader faces around £30,000 a year minimum in rental for an average sized shop, favourable, perhaps, for a chain, but a considerable sum for a small business.

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Bridge Street Quarter Regeneration – Warrington Market and the Masterplan Framework

Key Outputs

Executive Summary – Key Outputs

To recap – the Masterplan identifies three phases of development:

Phase One
A food store of 6,800sqm (2,600sqm at mezzanine level); a market of 4,356sqm; retail space of 6,270sqm; offices totalling 1,093sqm. An underground car park with 555 parking spaces (200 for food store). Sixty apartments.

Phase Two
A new hotel/JJB/offices/residential block; additional retail space of 1,425sqm; additional offices totalling 4,353 sqm. An additional eighty-five apartments.

Phase Three
A further ninety apartments.

Analysis – Market 4,356sqm

Warrington has been a market town since 1277: originally held at the crossing point of the town’s four main streets, Market Gate; it moved to a large, open space by the heath to the north-west of the town, sometime before 1465. It remained there for just over 500 years when it was moved to its present site, west of Upper Bank Street, in the 1970s and the Victorian Market halls demolished for the Golden Square indoor shopping centre.

The ‘considerable’ market of medieval times was noted for linen cloth, corn, cattle, provisions, and fish, ‘particularly lampreys’. (This latter strength is still evident today with a Warrington stall holder winning Young Fishmonger of the Year in 2010.)  The modern-day market, based in a 1970s purpose-built Market Hall, contains 200 stalls and 130 independent businesses and is claimed by the council on its website to be one of the largest in the North West.

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Bridge Street Quarter Regeneration – Key Outputs of the Masterplan Framework

Executive Summary

Executive Summary – Key Outputs

The Masterplan identifies three phases of development:

Phase One
A food store of 6,800sqm (2,600sqm at mezzanine level); a market of 4,356sqm; retail space of 6,270sqm; offices totalling 1,093sqm. An underground car park with 555 parking spaces (200 for food store). Sixty apartments.

Phase Two
A new hotel/JJB/offices/residential block; additional retail space of 1,425sqm; additional offices totalling 4,353 sqm. An additional eighty-five apartments.

Phase Three
A further ninety apartments.

Analysis – Food Store 6,800sqm with 2,600sqm at mezzanine level

This seems quite an unusual suggestion for such a prominent, central location, and it would be interesting to know the rationale behind it. Warrington already has two of the major supermarkets, Asda and Sainsbury’s, within the town centre, a 3 minute and a 5 minute walk from Bridge Street respectively, as well as another two, Tesco and Morrison’s, about half a mile from Bridge Street and a large Lidl on Fennel Street. ‘Regeneration’ in those terms is therefore already amply covered; I rather thought that regenerating a town centre usually involved some sort of cultural focus??

To put the proposed new food store into context, the Asda at Cockhedge is 6540 sqm, Sainsbury’s on Church Street is 6805sqm and Morrisons on Greenhall’s Avenue is 7610sqm. Even with the mezzanine level this will still take up a large part of the proposed area and could dominate the development site disproportionately.

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