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Saturday, 22 November 2014

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Luring in developers key to Barrow marina future

THE Barrow marina village project is to take a major step forward with a plan to start marketing the land for the housing part of the ambitious scheme.

Progress on the waterfront regeneration masterplan stalled after it missed out on government money when the structure of regional public funding changed.

However, Barrow Borough Council has still been buying the land needed to make the multi-million pound leisure, business and housing development a reality.

The council now controls 95 per cent of the land for what it says is a “transformational” vision for the town.

Six privately-owned plots of land are still to be acquired, but talks with one landowner, who owns three of the plots, are well advanced.

In a bid to kick-start the more achievable part of the masterplan, Phil Huck, the council’s executive director, is proposing to market the land designated for the housing to developers. He will put the proposal to the council's executive committee tomorrow and suggest £50,000 is allocated from the council’s reserves to start the process.

Mr Huck said in his report for the meeting: “There appears to be an opportunity to put the residential elements of the scheme, excluding land close to the marina, out to market, providing this is done on a commercially pragmatic basis to reflect the risk in the house building market in Barrow.”

The marina part of the project requires the creation of a new dock access, plus marina infrastructure. Mr Huck said the estimated cost of this is around £15m and would require substantial public sector investment.

Given the withdrawal of government funding from regeneration schemes, he cannot give any assurances over when that element would progress.

But Mr Huck added: “While I cannot give you a timescale for progressing the marina, there is potentially more opportunity to bring forward the residential elements of the scheme. In particular, it’s significant that the council controls the whole Salthouse Road frontage.”

Mr Huck said the process would require “significant funding” and a “phased approach”, but added: “The advice I received has concluded that, if the residential site of the marina village, excluding the waterfront, is taken to the market in a commercially pragmatic manner, it will attract developer interest. In order to achieve this, preliminary market testing would need to be carried out to determine regional and national house builder views of the Barrow market and the marina village site.”

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