Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Council fail to deliver again - carpetbaggers flee

From the Sentinel Today

GRAHAM TONG12:00 - 02 November 2005
Multi-million pound plans to transform Uttoxeter town centre have suffered a setback after talks between proposed developers and council officials broke down. Developer Taylor Woodrow told bosses at East Staffordshire Borough Council it was cutting its offer to buy the cattle market site in the town centre by a 'significant amount' before an agreement was due to be signed.Councillors have now decided unanimously to reject the offer.Taylor Woodrow was chosen a year ago to develop the site to form the main part of a 10-year masterplan for Uttoxeter. This included building 180 houses, a retail development, offices and improvements to town centre parking.A borough council statement says Taylor Woodrow has since delayed signing a contract to confirm the deal and has made 'frequent attempts to change the terms on which the company had been selected'.Talks will be opened with other developers if the firm does not increase its latest offer.Council leader Alex Fox insisted the authority was protecting the town's future interests by rejecting the offer.He said: "Taylor Woodrow was chosen 12 months ago because the designs were the best for Uttoxeter. They captured the ambience of the market town. They put a good mix together. We believed that would take the town forward for the next 100 years. They were supposed to sign a contract in March this year. As time has gone by we've been frustrated - they've always found another reason to delay putting a signature on that contract."First they came to us and said the amount they were paying was fine, but they wanted to spread it over two years."We gave ground on that on the basis that we wanted to make progress. Now we are faced with a problem where Taylor Woodrow want to reduce the price they were paying for the market site."We've told Taylor Woodrow we are not prepared to knock anything off the price. Taylor Woodrow may well want to review its position and talk to us again, which we would be happy to do."Mr Fox added that Taylor Woodrow's plan to halve the number of retail outlets initially proposed in order to develop more housing had also been rejected, and that the firm was no longer guaranteeing the scheme's quality.Councillor Julian Mott, leader of the opposition, said: "The Labour group representatives agreed that these would not represent the best solution for Uttoxeter and we support the council's decision."Taylor Woodrow's director of strategic development, Jamie Gibbins said: "We are still in negotiation and while discussions continue with all interested parties we are not in a position to comment any further."

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