THE credit crunch has hit plans to regenerate Tower Wharf in Chester where a programme of works has come to a grinding halt.
Three buildings providing 8,000 square metres of office space were due to have been built close to the British Telecom exchange near Telford’s Warehouse.
But developer CTP Ltd says the scheme is on hold because of funding issues and the lack of an end user.
Guy Illingworth of CTP said: “In terms of the commercial element we are a little bit hand-tied given the state of the commercial market. It’s unlikely we will develop anything speculatively in the current climate.
“As and when the market is right we will commence the development of the commercial office development.”
Infrastructural works, including a car park, have been built with an electricity substation due to be installed on site next April or May.
Mr Illingworth said Government empty property rates legislation meant there was even less of an incentive to build on a speculative basis because it was now more expensive to maintain a vacant building.
Chester MP Christine Russell, who lives in the area, will be disappointed because she had been waiting 20 years for a regeneration scheme to breathe new life into the Garden Lane area and create up to 500 jobs.
Had it not been for delays in finalising this scheme it could have been built in 2005 before the onset of the credit crunch.
Owners of the nearby Telford’s Warehouse will also be disappointed because they had been looking forward to increasing the amount of lunchtime trade which would have resulted from having office workers on their doorstep.
City Cllr David Mead (Lib Dem, College) said: “It’s a great shame for the area because it’s not exactly beautiful. It’s a wasteland. Everyone was hoping something would get done and the area would be tidied up.”
The other aspect of the regeneration project is to build at least 153 apartments, town houses, plus bars and restaurants fronting a mooring basin, creating a mini-Albert dock.
Some of the delays in getting this element off the ground were because mid way through the preliminary stages it was agreed that Morris Homes should take over from the original development partner, Bellway Homes. A spokesperson for Morris said: “We’re currently in the process of buying the land from CTP and plan to start construction once the sale is complete.”