Council to buy land to create jobs in Portishead?
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A development company set up by North Somerset Council plans to buy land in Portishead to prevent it being used for housing.
North Somerset Council has made an offer to buy land at Gordano Gate near Homebase and Sainsbury’s.
Its executive member for finance, Cllr David Pasley, said the authority is determined to keep Gordano Gate for business use.
He told the Times: “We aren’t willing to lose any more development land.”
His words comes despite the council giving the green light in the past 12 months for housing projects such as at Harbour Crescent and near Cheviot Meadow – areas which had previously been earmarked for employment use.
The council’s scheme mirrors its investment efforts which in recent weeks have seen it approve a £38million purchase of North Worle Retail Park. The Times also understands the council is closing in on a multi-million-pound deal to lease – and ultimately buy – the Sovereign Shopping Centre in Weston.
Cllr Pasley said people wrongly believe the council’s focus is purely on Weston.
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He said: “We’ve put in an offer for the (Gordano Gate) site – it’s substantial and about returning employment to the area.”
The future of businesses in Old Mill Road is uncertain, with leases due to end in March and the landlord unwilling to renew them in the hope of redeveloping the area to provide a cinema, restaurants and flats.
North Somerset Council says it will not accept the plans in their current guise, but Cllr Pasley believes the Gordano Gate deal could allow the council to ‘temporarily’ re-house any companies who need to leave the industrial area next year.
A council spokesman said it set up a development company because it is ‘committed to safeguarding key employment sites and where possible helping to develop them’.
They said: “By safeguarding sites, we aim to stop key employment land from being used for other purposes following change of use planning applications.
“Portishead’s employment and property market has particularly come under pressure from developers seeking to develop sites for alternative uses.
“As a result, a formal offer has been made by our development company for employment land off Serbert Way to develop an employment-led scheme to meet the demand of expanding local companies and to attract investment from further afield.”
Cllr Pasley is hopeful a deal will be concluded in the ‘next few months’.