Stratford’s long-delayed Gateway Project could be set to move forward after it was revealed a new buyer is close to purchasing the land.
Speaking during a cabinet meeting at Stratford District Council last month, Tony Perks, head of technical and community services, revealed that a potential buyer for the Gateway site had been identified.
The land is currently owned by Stratford businessman Peter Warwick.
Answering a question from Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Susan Juned about what progress was being made on the Gateway, Mr Perks said: “We’re in a reasonably exciting phase with the Gateway, we’ve identified a potential purchaser for the site, I spoke to the current owner of the land just before I came in here and the agents are close to agreeing terms.
“If we did that it would enable us to improve Windsor Street Car Park and that key access to the town. I am cautiously optimistic that we should have some good news in the next few weeks on this.”
The idea of regenerating a large 2.85 acre swathe of land between Windsor Street and Arden Street as the Gateway Project was first mooted in 2015 and in 2017 the Herald viewed a conceptual masterplan explaining the developer’s vision for the site.
The idea was to potentially fil the space with offices, retail units, a hotel and residential space.
However there has been growing frustration in some quarters about a lack of progress on the project and a failure to improve the neglected Windsor Street multi-storey car park.
The state of the car park, just a stone’s throw from Shakespeare’s Birthplace on Henley Street, was described as a ‘disgrace’ by Peter Moorse, former leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Stratford District Council, earlier this year.
Some have speculated that the lack of investment in the car park is because it could be demolished as part of the Gateway Project.
Cllr Juned said: “The fact that there seems to be some progress on the Gateway Project is something that I would certainly welcome because it is an area of town that needs to be addressed, especially given the investment that is going to be made to improve Henley Street. It’s about time that something was done in the Gateway area, fingers crossed we will hear some positive news about the site soon.”
A spokesperson for Peter Warwick said: “It is not Mr Warwick’s policy to discuss his business affairs in the public arena, it serves no purpose other than that of speculation and supposition. That said; I am able to confirm it is no secret that, with the collaboration of the District Council, it has always been intended any development of the site ear marked as ‘The Gateway’ would be carried out by a third party or development partner.”
The Gateway Project has been talked about since as far back as 2001, with hopes that it could radically improve the rundown look of the junction of Arden Street, Windsor Street and Birmingham Road.