The developer behind the £35 million redevelopment of the former Nestle Waters bottling site in Buxton is going back to the drawing board following the surprise withdrawal of its controversial plans for a supermarket, hotel and shops.
Cheshire-based Consolidated Property Group (CPG), who have been chosen by Nestle to develop the vacant Station Road site, withdrew their application for planning permission last week.
The proposed scheme had included the construction of a single-storey supermarket and a four-storey mixed-use building containing a 60-bed hotel, a pub/restaurant, shops and cafes, which the developer said would create more than 300 new jobs.
But the developer has now said it is reconsidering the scheme in light of the changing retail landscape and the comments received during the public consultation.
Dan Bramwell, CPG spokesperson, said: “I think everyone is aware through the media of the changes that have taken place in the foodstore sector.
“These, along with the very constructive comments we have received on the submitted scheme, have made us reconsider our position.
If any development is to make a positive contribution to Buxton it is important that it is viable and doesn’t become a white elephant, leaving retail the obvious solution.Dan Bramwell, CPG spokesman
“There have been other changes too: since the plans were submitted we have been approached by several national retailers and restaurant chains, looking to be represented in the town, which are unable to find any other suitable location. The Nestle Waters site provides the only solution. This gives us an opportunity to totally rethink the scheme so we can deliver the best possible option to complement the existing town centre.
“One key point to come out of the public consultation was the requirement for a town centre budget hotel and we are talking to a number of operators. Many people also commented that the approach to Buxton Rail Station could be improved and, following further discussions with Network Rail, we are now reconsidering the access and parking arrangements.”
CPG said many ideas for the future use of the site had been suggested during the course of the consultation, and that the developer would be “considering the options available to them within the parameters of the site”. It also plans to hold a second public consultation event in the coming months.
Mr Bramwell added: “If any development is to make a positive contribution to Buxton it is important that it is viable and doesn’t become a white elephant, leaving retail the obvious solution. In going back to the drawing board, we potentially have the makings of a very exciting scheme that is substantially different from our earlier proposals and will bring new attractions to Buxton that will help to retain expenditure in the town.
“We are trying to balance the requirements of a very demanding design brief against the commercial and financial viability of any scheme on what is not an easy site to develop. We will once again be engaging with the various parties at the earliest opportunity to get their input but it is always difficult encompassing the views of so many with such differing opinions.”
A decision on the application was originally due to be made by High Peak Borough Council planners in March, however this was put back as the authority awaited responses from key consultees.
The original scheme had received a mixed reaction in the town, with residents and key groups, including Buxton Civic Association, Buxton Women’s Institute, Buxton Traders, the Buxton Group, Transition Buxton and Buxton Town Team, submitting formal objections.
Among the concerns raised were the addition of another supermarket in the town and its potential impact on existing businesses.
The developer had previously stated that the food store was the catalyst for the development, and that no decision had been made on the operator. In January, Tesco confirmed it would not be involved in the scheme.