The transformation of Wellingborough’s town centre has taken a major step forward, as the council has announced its preferred developer for the multi-million pound regeneration of the High Street.
At a presentation to the development committee on Tuesday 20 March, Keepmoat Homes, a national company that specialises in community regeneration, was revealed as the top choice to develop the site with houses, shops and a hotel.
The announcement marks a significant milestone in an important improvement project that will kick start the regeneration of the town centre. The council has invested a considerable amount of money through compulsory purchase orders to secure the land, as well as achieving £1million of government funding to construct a new road, Derek Hooton Way, into the site.
Keepmoat Homes has been selected following a structured procurement process that saw 17 developers invited to bid to carry out the regeneration work. In September 2010 the council received £42,000 of funding from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to carry out the procurement process and appointed consultants Drivers Jonas Deloitte to advise on the best way forward. It was decided that the most appropriate and cost effective way was to go through the HCA's delivery partner panel, which features a number of pre-selected, high-quality developers. Keepmoat came out as the preferred choice and once approved by the committee this evening the next steps will be to finalise detailed proposals, begin a public consultation, and submit a planning application. Work could start on the site later this year.
The plans for the site, which is around eight acres in total, include 134 homes, a new 200 space multi-storey car park, retail units, and a new hotel, subject to confirming an operator. The development is also expected to mark the start of further improvements in the town centre, including the area around Market Square and the potential development of the Tresham College site.
Councillor Graham Lawman, Chairman of Wellingborough Council's Development Committee, said: "This is a really exciting time for Wellingborough. We are talking about tens of millions of pounds being invested into our town centre, and the beginning of a major improvement project which will extend further than just this one site. We need to spend some time fine tuning the proposed High Street scheme in order to come up with a formal agreement with Keepmoat, but we're confident they will give us a top-quality development that will transform this important and high profile gateway into our town centre."
Cllr Lawman added: "This part of the town is a conservation area, and we wanted to make sure that the development would reflect the heritage of the surrounding buildings. We're really pleased that the design proposals are sympathetic and suitable for the area."
Martyn Johnson, Partnerships Project Manager at Keepmoat Homes said: "We are delighted to have been selected as the preferred developer for this exciting initiative. Our track record of delivering regeneration, not just through bricks and mortar but also by supporting communities and providing employment and training in the areas where we work, means we are well placed to help create a sustainable and thriving neighbourhood in this part of Wellingborough."
Alex Morton an Assistant Director at Drivers Jonas Deloitte said: "The selection of Keepmoat as the council's preferred bidder marks a significant step forward in the regeneration of Wellingborough town centre. It is also testament to the proactive approach of the local authority, which through assembling the site and adopting a commercial approach to realising its vision, has demonstrated how the public sector can help facilitate growth in challenging times."