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Councillor defends big Worcester regeneration delay
ONE of Worcestershire's most senior politicians has defended delays in giving a £100 million-plus Worcester revamp the nod - insisting it would not be held back "without good reason".
Councillor John Smith, the cabinet member for highways, has appealed for patience over the massive regeneration of Sherriff Street.
As your Worcester News revealed on Monday, the investors behind the huge homes, leisure and business complex have blamed Worcestershire County Council for working not getting underway yet, calling it "diabolical".
Work on phase one was approved in September 2013 and Sherriff's Gate Ltd now say the project is likely to run at least one year late.
The firm says it is mystified about the delay, which is because the council's highways officers have not signed it off yet.
Cllr Smith said: "With something like this, highways would not hold it up without good reason.
"We all want to see jobs and regeneration, that's what the council is pushing for.
"I know the highways officers are extremely busy in that department, we all know because the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) hasn't been approved yet we're getting planning applications from Tom, Dick and Harry and they all need dealing with.
"But with something as big as this the council wouldn't hold it up, there are always legal requirements officers have to go through and detailed technical stuff to sort out."
The council says the delay centres around trying to find solutions to minimising the extra congestion the development would cause.
The grand project includes more than 600 homes, an 80-bed care village for the elderly, cinema, bowling alley, ice skating rink, bars, shops, eateries, 96-bed hotel, gym, 1,000 parking spaces, offices and more.
The site in question is near the already-busy Newtown Road and sits on 900,000 sq ft of industrial land close to Shrub Hill Railway Station.
The company also says it has spent more than £500,000 getting planning approval, including £50,000 on sophisticated traffic modelling for the development, but is still waiting on the final green light having first insisted it wanted to start back in January.
The project is being done in three phases and the company was aiming on a 2017 completion date.