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Congestion fears delay £100m Worcester revamp decision
PLANS for a £100 million plus transformation of a key part of Worcester are being delayed due to congestion concerns, it has emerged.
The ambitious Sherriff Street scheme – the jewel in the crown for the city’s regeneration hopes – is being held up while highways experts examine the full implications for the roads.
The project, which includes 650 new homes, a cinema, hotel, bowling alley, gym, 80-bed care village, restaurants, 1,000 car parking spaces and offices, was originally expected to come before planning chiefs in June.
That target was pushed back to August, but Worcester City Council now says it could take until the end of the year before it can go to the planning committee.
The delay is because number crunchers at Worcestershire County Council are using high-tech computer modelling to draw up a picture of what the scheme will mean for local traffic.
Highways experts are working furiously to assess what it means for key routes such as Tallow Hill and Middle Street.
The city council says it is still fully behind the scheme, but wants to get it right to avoid putting pressure on the roads.
Paul O’Connor, head of planning, said: “We’ve got to get this right otherwise future generations of this city will be cussing us.
“Very detailed work is going on about the transportation side of this – we know this is a sensitive part of the highways network which is why the computer modelling is being done.
“It will show the implications for traffic across the whole of the city, what junctions need to be improved and how can we reduce car usage in favour of bus and rail. It will also show the overall impact on sensitive areas like Tallow Hill and Middle Street.
“For me, the critical thing is that when we take it to the planning committee the entire development and its associated highways network must be right for the city.
“People are working furiously on it and the expectation is, we’ll take it to the committee this year.”
The project, by Worcester-based Sheriff’s Gate Limited, is the single biggest regeneration scheme ever seen in the city.
Around 900,000 square feet of industrial land just behind the Shrub Hill train station will be transformed.
The site covers a plot of land almost five times larger than the £75 million St Martin’s Quarter development in Lowesmoor.
Sanctuary Housing is being lined up to take over the apartments, many of which will be earmarked for students and key workers like nurses, as well as affordable homes and standard rent.
The development will be completed in three phases with work on phase one due to start immediately after the first of two planning applications is approved.
A spokesman for the developer says the scheme will provide jobs, housing, help the economy and deliver a total overhaul for that part of the city.
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