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City of York Council’s fees rack up for stalled Castle Piccadilly development
ALMOST £90,000 of public money has been spent on legal fees surrounding a huge potential development in the centre of York – despite uncertainty over whether it will go ahead.
LaSalle UK Ventures Fund, which owns the Coppergate Centre, said last year it wanted to build a £200 million shopping scheme on the Castle Piccadilly site and was in talks with big-name retail firms about moving there, as well as looking at creating an expanded Fenwick store.
But progress has stalled since City of York Council gave the go-ahead for a £90 million shopping complex including John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Next stores at Monks Cross, alongside a community stadium , earlier this year.
LaSalle and its development manager, Centros, said they needed to hold further talks with the authority to assess whether the project was now viable.
A report which will go before councillors later this month said discussions with the developers about pushing the scheme forward were currently “on hold”, but planning officers had been speaking to landowners and design teams about how a “high-quality retail-led” development could be created at Castle Piccadilly.
The council’s annual accounts for 2011/12 show £89,050 was spent on legal advice on matters concerning the scheme during the year, due to a development agreement being drawn up and signed between LaSalle and the authority.
The accounts entry for Castle Piccadilly also listed expenditure totalling £45,000 on external temporary staff, although Mike Slater, the council’s assistant director for city development and sustainability, said this related to work on “a number of council projects”.
“The £89,050 covered costs associated with preparing the conditional development agreement for Castle Piccadilly with LaSalle, which included the scope, look and timing of the project,” he said.
“It required specialist advice from property consultants CB Richard Ellis and legal advice from Schulmans, as well as miscellaneous legal costs.”
Following approval of the Monks Cross plans, Centros said the development “severely compromised” Castle Piccadilly because of the amount of trade which would be drawn away from the city centre.
The developers had previously said rejecting the out-of-town scheme would allow them to submit a planning application early next year and the scheme could be completed in late 2016.