Plan to ‘revitalise’ Old Mill Road in £60m scheme with cinema and shops
- Credit: Standard Life Investments
A £60million transformation of Portishead’s industrial heart will create more jobs, boost the economy and provide leisure and retail opportunities not seen before in the town.
That is Standard Life Investments’ view as it applied this week for planning permission to ‘revitalise’ Old Mill Road.
A six-screen cinema, gym, 350 flats, cafés, bars, restaurants, shops and parking all feature in the scheme, which it is hoped will stop Portishead losing out to Cribbs Causeway, Bristol and Weston.
However, the scheme, which has been brewing for more than two years, has received little support so far – with Old Mill Road businesses facing being homeless when their leases end in March.
Public meetings have seen many people living in Portishead speak out against the idea, while Portishead Town Council and North Somerset Council members have also refused to back the plan.
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North Somerset did once identify the area as a place for regeneration, with 40 and 100-flat ideas floated, but it opted not to include the site in its plan which looks at housing requirements up to 2026. However, that does not mean Standard Life’s housing plan is necessarily doomed.
Standard Life says its scheme would link the High Street and modern marina.
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Ron Urquhart, development manager for Aberdeen Standard Investments which is part of the Standard Life business, says Old Mill Road as it stands does not befit a town centre.
He said: “It could change going forward when more discussions happen with North Somerset Council.
“But we feel it very much will revitalise a key part of the town.”
If permission is granted, Mr Urquhart says construction work could begin in 2019 and says the redevelopment would create 301 more full-time jobs than Old Mill Road now offers. He estimates it will contribute an extra £7million to the town’s economy too.
Mr Urquhart said: “We are going to invest a great deal of money in this project and I’m pretty confident we will see a scheme evolve to the benefit of Portishead.”
Talks between the firm and the council have been going on for several months, ranging from preventing traffic problems through to where the displaced traders could move to. Mr Urquhart says talks on the latter issue are ‘ongoing’.