A PREFERRED bidder has been selected for the £40 million regeneration of Towcester’s Moat Lane area.
But South Northants Council has said the developer cannot yet be named for legal reasons and they must meet a variety of conditions before the contract can be awarded.
The decision paves the way for SNC to make the controversial move from its offices at Springfields on the edge of Towcester to a new community facility at the town centre site.
The decision to move provoked a heated public meeting in Towcester Town Hall last year in which district residents protested against the new council offices at a time when public finances are at their worst.
Martin Johns, SNC’s Lib Dem member for Towcester Brook, said the controlling Tories remained ‘fixated on their vanity scheme’ and added: “Lib Dems believe the proposal represents an unacceptable financial risk to local tax payers and at the same time may not comply with the council’s own master plan for Moat Lane.”
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SNC leader Mary Clarke said: “This an exciting time for residents of Towcester and for the wider district. As well as enhancing Towcester’s historic town centre, creating an attractive town for residents and visitors, implementation of this project will enable the council to significantly reduce its costs and focus expenditure where it is needed most, on front line service for residents.”
£17 million has already been put into the scheme, with £2 million from SNC, and the rest coming from the West Northants Development Corporation, Northants County Council, Northants Enterprise Ltd; the former East Midlands Development Agency, and the Homes and Community Agency.
The initial investment has seen the purchase and opening of the award winning 28 acre Easton Neston Watermeadow as a public park, the restoration of Bury Mount, and the acquisition of land around Moat Lane, including Towcester Mill. If successful the project will provide a mix of residential and commercial premises with shops, cafés, restaurants, and a micro-brewery. It is proposed the community building will also house a new library, and registry office.
The plans are still to go through the normal planning process.