LONG-awaited plans to redevelop a major gateway into Stratford town centre are gaining momentum.
The draft Stratford Gateway Masterplan was given the go-ahead by Stratford District Council back in October and, now in another vital leap forwards, the Cabinet has agreed a collaboration agreement with West Midlands Combined Authority to acquire the site.
The ambitious masterplan, which aims to rejuvenate the “underwhelming’ northwest gateway into the town to give visitors a sense of arrival, includes plans for a World Shakespeare Centre to boost tourism and the town’s status as the “pre-eminent destination” for celebrating the life and works of the Bard.
Other proposals include cafes, shops, educational facilities and residential properties.
The site, which has been in much need of regeneration for over a decade, is bounded by Birmingham Road to the northeast, Arden Street to the northwest, and Windsor Street to the southeast and occupies a ‘transitional zone’ between the historic core of the town, and more recent peripheral expansion consisting of employment and commercial buildings.
The area, of just over a hectare, is currently predominantly used for parking including a multi-storey car park and a coach park.
A public consultation commenced in mid-October and ran for six weeks.
SDC has however had difficulties acquiring the site from Gateway One Limited who were leading the redevelopment project but have not come up with a viable scheme over the last ten years,
Last year SDC submitted a bid under the Levelling Up Fund for funding to buy the site from GOL but this was unsuccessful as the scheme was not sufficiently developed.
Without this external support, councillors resolved it would be unaffordable for them to acquire the site. But then they agreed to approach West Midlands Combined Authority for financial support on the basis of the site being of regional importance.
An application was made to WMCA and was positively received.
At a meeting on Monday (December 6) Cabinet gave its approval to a Collaboration Agreement between WMCA and SDC which sets out the roles and responsibilities each authority will have when it comes to hopefully acquiring and subsequently developing the site.
WMCA will cover the cost of purchasing the site – which will be determined through negotiations with GOL – while SDC will meet the cost of the business rates.
The Collaboration Agreement will be for ten years.
Coun George Cowcher said: “This has been a site which has challenged this authority for a long time and at long last we have a practical way forward.
“The site is not a great credit to Stratford district or Stratford town and I am very keen to see action taking place during the timescale of this administration.”