Grosvenor Centre Part 2 – Bus Station Demolition – Who will Pay?
I’m sure I’m not alone in asking where the delay in the demolition of the Grey Friars Bus Station is in all of the rhetoric, self-admiration and back slapping from the Northampton Conservatives over the new bus station.
Ignore the fact that the new bus station has only been able to go ahead because of the excellent work carried out by the WNDC who secured the necessary funding for which the Leader of the Council has been so keen on taking the credit.
Labour asked a series of questions at the time the Conservatives made the announcement that they were closing Greyfriars and demolition would follow.
The problem is that just as there was no mention of the Legal and General commitment to a start date or even plans for the regeneration of the Grosvenor Centre in the Conservatives recent election propaganda there was also no mention of the Greyfriars demolition.
The problem is that Northampton taxpayers are now saddled with the bill for maintaining the bus station for the period between its closure and demolition and incredibly when I asked how much it would cost the answer I received was,
“The budget requirements following vacation of the site are still being calculated so I am unable to provide any figures at this time” 22nd January 2013
Where the problem lies is not the fact that the Conservatives hadn’t established what funding was needed to support their decision but that they don’t know how long it will be before, if ever, demolition will start.
The start date for the demolition depends on the Legal and General programme for the redevelopment of the Grosvenor Centre which it appears is nowhere near being decided and where according to the Conservatives an announcement was going to be made in January.
A feasibility study in 2008 considered three alternatives for the demolition of the bus station.
Traditional demolition which will take 9 months, Structural Deconstruction which will take 12 months and Explosive Demolition which would take 11 months.
Demolition should have started in October this year as part of the Grosvenor and Town Centre regeneration which means even if an announcement is made this autumn demolition will not start until at the earliest 2015.
Who knows that may be part of the Conservative plan?
Demolition starting just before the Borough Council election in 2015?
The impact on the highways and existing businesses will vary with the chosen method of demolition but because of the nature of the bus station construction explosive demolition has been ruled out.
Responsibility for the demolition of the bus station as we are told is the responsibility of Legal and General and presumably they will take the impact of the demolition on existing businesses into account in developing their regeneration plans?
The question Northampton taxpayers would be justified in asking is what happens if Legal and General having already last year said that they don’t feel they have the support of the Borough Council decide it is no longer economically viable and pull out of the Grosvenor Development?
Who pays for the demolition of the bus station and how much will it cost?
This of course brings us full circle to the Conservative administration who was elected in 2011 on a promise not to be held to ransom by Legal and General but who because of the decisions have nowhere else to go?
Is there any wonder that the Conservatives are desperate to get the Rushden Lakes Development rejected because if they end up being approved there must be a real danger that Legal and General will walk away from Northampton?
All of the tough talk about “We will demand a start date or walk away” from the Northampton Conservatives is now effectively meaningless and they have handed the full initiative to Legal and General.
The silence from the Northampton Conservatives is deafening?