DUDLEY REGENERATION: Council agrees to £800,000 funding
A major £80 million scheme to help regenerate Dudley town centre has moved a step closer after clearing another hurdle.
Members of Dudley Council unanimously agreed to spend more than £800,000 on works to help move the Portersfield site regeneration forward, at a meeting on Monday (April 19).
The huge project will cost around £82 million and promises to deliver 347 residential units, 200 student digs, up to 10,000 square feet of retail and leisure space as well as a 38,000 square feet Ice Rink Centre.
On April 1, the authority’s cabinet had already agreed to partner with developers Avenbury (Dudley) and provide £420,000 funding to develop and submit a planning application for the scheme.
This was rubber-stamped at the full council meeting, where it was also agreed that a further £150,000 per year for the next two years would be provided to fund the council’s project management and delivery of the development.
Although the report was passed without comment, council leader Patrick Harley later referenced Portersfield when quizzed about protecting the borough’s green belt land.
He said: “You have a firm commitment that we will have a brownfield first policy. The green belt is absolutely precious to us all and we will do all we can to negate the need to build on that green belt.
“There are many brownfield sites and we have seen here tonight on the Portersfield one – 200 student accommodation units, 400 other residential units – that’s reclaiming derelict buildings that have stood empty for 15/20 years.
“That’s how you protect the green belt, by building where you can on derelict brownfield sites. That’s a policy we’re enacting that will continue in the future.”
The project is part of a wider £1 billion regeneration aimed at breathing new life into Dudley town centre.
Other projects include a £24.5 million new leisure centre, a £24 million transport interchange, enhancements to attractions such as Dudley Zoo and Castle and the extension of the Midland Metro.
Last year, the disused “eyesore” office block Cavendish House was demolished to help pave the way for the Portersfield project.
In original plans submitted by Avenbury, a cinema was going to be part of the development but this was dropped due to it being close to the existing Showcase situated on Castlegate Business Park.
A report to full council said: “It is important that the council fully understands the ground conditions at the development site.
“The council is required to undertake ground investigations across that part of the Portersfied site required for the new roads infrastructure.
“It is therefore proposed that the opportunity is taken to investigate ground conditions across the whole of the Portersfield site at an estimated
additional cost of £105,000.
“Given the importance and scale of the Portersfield development, it is vital that the council has robust project governance in place.
“This will include the establishment of a Project Governance Board with members drawn from the council’s Strategic Executive Board; a Programme Board made up of senior officers in relevant disciplines; and the establishment of a Project Management resource of £150,000 per annum over each of the next two years to ensure that the council’s interests are best served during the development and delivery of the Portersfield development.”
Words: Gurdip Thandi, Local Democracy Reporter
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