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SCHEME ON HOLD
The 30m major redevelopment scheme to turn Full Street police station and court into apartments and offices was expected to be approved by the city council. But a last minute objection by the Environment Agency means it could be referred to the Secretary of State.

Developer Wilson Bowden wants to build more than 100 apartments and 95,000 sq ft of office space on the Full Street site but the agency said the former magistrates' court was in a zone three flood-risk area, which means it is at risk once every 100 years.

Richard Williams, the council's assistant director of regeneration, said that if no agreement could be made, the Secretary of State would get the final say.

Council leader Chris Williamson said, "I am furious that this objection has been submitted at the 11th hour. These concerns should have been expressed sooner. If the objection had been made by a member of the public as late as that it would have be disregarded."

He added, "But because it was from the Environment Agency it means that the matter now has to be referred to the Secretary of State. That had obviously built in another delay of about three months." (Source:
BBC News, Jan/08)
SHOT IN THE FOOT
Well it looks like Derby City Council has yet again shot itself severely through the foot. Members of the council are bleating about how they tried to buy the site for an arts centre.

Had they listened to the people and the objections against the sale of the Full Street open space, they would have been able to accrue the site at a reasonable price as without that strip of land the site would be useless to a developer. Tony Dunn
       


FULL STREET POLICE STATION

Derbyshire police have made 2.7m from the sale of Full Street Police Station, after refusing to sell it to the city council for use as a new library and arts centre. Derbyshire Police Authority allegedly turned down a 1m cash offer from the council in order to hold out for a bigger offer from a property developer. The police authority inherited the building from Derbyshire County Council only 10 years ago.

The money made by the police from the sale of Full Street to developer Wilson Bowden will go into the police authority's capital pot, money used for buildings, maintenance and infrastructure. But it is likely that most of it will be spent on projects outside Derby. Money has already been earmarked for refurbishments to Glossop Police Station, Chesterfield custody suite and the police station in Chapel-en-le-Frith.

Councillor Chris Williamson, leader of Derby City Council's Labour group, who was involved in negotiations with the police authority and Derbyshire's Chief Constable, David Coleman, when Labour was in power more than a year ago, said the decision to hold out for the highest bid was "regrettable" and was not the best way to serve the community.

He said, "It could have been used for public facilities, which now is not possible. That is a disappointment. It is a regrettable outcome and a missed opportunity. One would at least hope that the money would be reinvested into improving facilities for the police in Derby and not sucked out to be used elsewhere."

Mr Williamson said the council had offered "in excess of 1m" for the police station site, in the hope that it could be replaced with a new visual arts centre and library plus new council offices. That would have enabled all council departments, currently dispersed around the city, to be under one roof.

The council is currently struggling to finance the planned Quad arts centre and has faced major public hostility over its previous decision to build it in the Market Place. Despite Mr Williamson's claim, Jo Thornton, chairman of the police authority, claimed the only offers in writing from the city council for the Full Street site were 250,000 and 300,000.

"Anything more was not an official figure in writing," she said, "and we have a strict legal duty to obtain the best price." Ms Thornton also defended the spending plans for the proceeds, pointing out, "We might well have capital funding raised elsewhere that has been used in Derby."

Wilson Bowden plans to create 39 low-cost homes and 157 apartments above ground-floor restaurants and bars on the site, which also includes the former magistrates' court. Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council will also gain from the sale of the police station and magistrates' court site, but neither council would reveal how much. (Source:
Derby Evening Telegraph)


The supposed disappointment of our councillors over the sale of Full Street Police Station must be taken with a pinch of salt. Yes, I am sure that they would have liked to obtain the site at below its market value, who would not want 2.7m worth of property for 1m? But should they not ask themselves why the land was so valuable?

Has it slipped their minds that the public open space adjacent to the police station was somehow incorporated into the police station area and used as a car park, whilst still belonging to the people of Derby? Then suddenly, when the site is for sale and this little fact comes to light, a backroom deal is done to sell the public open space to whom we do not know (but can guess) and at a price which has not been widely broadcast, and the agreement negotiated by whom for the city council is kept quiet.

Thus, by increasing the size of the plot available for sale, the city council have also made the police station site much more valuable. Still, it would be nice to think that now that police station site is in private hands then it will be better looked after. But do not hold your breath. We already have stonework pushed over near the Full Street entrance, and not restored.

There are signs drilled into the wall opposite the Council House and a huge (and probably illegal) banner stretched across the building near the Assembly Rooms car park. But at least the site of yet more bars and restaurants is being protected by the hideous blue hoardings that have been erected all around the site. It is very good of the developers to be building 39 low-cost homes in the site.

I wonder if these will these be the ones nearest the bars and restaurants and thus getting all the noise? It is a shame that this new low-cost housing is not in addition to the former low-cost housing that is currently being demolished on Stuart Street. But maybe our city centre is only available for upmarket housing and bars, plus the inconvenient but legally required sop to low-cost housing. Yes, it looks like one more bit of our Cityscape inspired sterile insanity is now slipping nicely into place for the developers and their friends. Anon


Derby City Council has been accused of refusing to reach an amicable agreement in a row with the county police authority over the sale of land. Thousands of pounds of public money was spent sorting out a three-year argument between the pair over land in Full Street, the former home of Derby police headquarters and magistrates' court. As a result, an independent arbitrator had to be brought in, costing more than 6,000 of public money, to make a decision and end the row.

The land, which was jointly owned by the city council and police authority, is set to be transformed as part of a 30m scheme, which will see 125 apartments created as well as four new restaurants and 95,000 square feet of office space. After 15 months of deliberations, the arbitrator decided the police authority will receive 298,022 of a disputed amount, while the city council will receive about 160,000.

The city council made the decision public and claimed a victory, as it said it was receiving 90,000 more than was offered by the police authority in pre-arbitration discussions. The police authority will also bear the bulk of the arbitrator's costs. City council leader Councillor Chris Williamson said, "The police authority reneged on the agreement we had with them. I hope we can now put this behind us and move forward." (Source:
Derby Evening Telegraph, Oct/07)

 

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