After “robust challenge and scrutiny” a deal to sell the former gas works site in Wisbech to local developers GB Construction Partnership Ltd will go ahead.
The deal struck between Fenland Council and the Wisbech St Mary firm was called into question by three councillors led by independent Virginia Bucknor.
Mrs Bucknor, backed by fellow independent Mark Archer, and Tory Jan French, asked for the transaction to be re-examined to ensure due diligence took place, to explain why GB Construction was approved and whether or not the deal had gone out to tender.
The move came in the wake of Fenland Cabinet’s agreement to the “negotiated disposal” to GB Construction of the former gas works site at a closed meeting in August.
However, on Thursday (September 26) and after robust challenge and scrutiny the Overview and Scrutiny panel agreed to endorse the earlier Cabinet decision to dispose of lot 3 (the former gas works site).
The site will be sold to GB Construction for the construction of 70 new dwellings, including 24 affordable homes for Roddens Housing Association.
Cllr Chris Seaton, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Port said: “I am extremely pleased that Overview and Scrutiny have ratified the cabinet decision - this is excellent news for Wisbech and Fenland. It not only provides continuation of the regeneration of the Nene Waterfront area but also utilises a ‘local’ developer that will support local jobs and skills and continues to build confidence in the area for much needed investment and housing”.
The disposal is subject to planning approval which it is understood from the developer will commence as soon as possible now the green light for the disposal has been given.
The Nene Waterfront Regeneration Area (NWRA) was born in 2003 from a long-held desire to regenerate a neglected, former industrial area and redundant commercial port of Wisbech, which, without public sector intervention would remain as a long-term blot on the local landscape.
The regeneration of the NWRA continues to be a long-established, key strategic objective for Fenland Council. Most of the projects have been successfully completed, including a successful yacht harbour and boatyard with heavy boat lift, the impressive Boathouse business centre, the Foyer centre, key infrastructure improvements and importantly the decontamination of the former industrial land.
It remains vitally important that the final key element of the project – the residential and mixed-use development of the vacant sites - is delivered.
The council hopes the deal with GB Construction will boost confidence and attract other developers to the remaining two sites.