Legal battle halts town development

The old Guildhall site on Caskegate Street G120313-3b
The old Guildhall site on Caskegate Street G120313-3b

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a hotel, cinema and shops in the Elswitha Quarter of Gainsborough have been put on hold as West Lindsey District Council is being taken to court.

As part of plans to redevelop Gainsborough’s Elswitha quarter with a cinema, restaurant and shops built near the riverside, the conservative-led West Lindsey District Council last year also announced plans to build a chain hotel and car park on Whitton’s Gardens.

The idea has courted much controversy and opposition from many councillors and residents - but now the decision over how the contract was rewarded is to be subjected to a judicial review.

Tillbridge Developments, based in Sturton by Stow has been questioning how WLDC came to award the contract to the Lindum Group, from Lincoln.

A spokesman from Tillbridge Developments was unable to comment.

While legal issues surround the Elswitha Quarter, a spokesman denied that there was a problem with proposals to build a 50 room hotel in that area.

It has been stated that only 20 per cent of Whitton’s Gardens will be lost to built development while the rest will stay as public open space.

Car parking will stay the same and thee riverside walk ways will remain unaltered and available to the public.

Despite the legal battle delaying redevelopment work until issues are resolved, the former Guildhall will still be torn down as planned.

A spokesperson for West Lindsey District Council told The Standard: “The Council can confirm that it has received judicial review proceedings in relation to its plans to redevelop the Elswitha Quarter and it is in the process of filing its formal defence with the court.”

“The Council remains committed to a comprehensive development of the area around the former Guildhall, now known as the Elswitha Quarter.”

“It is the Council’s intention that the development of the area will come forward in phases with the hotel likely to be in the first phase.”

They added: “The cinema, restaurants and any other uses will be developed as part of a later phase - although the former Guildhall building will be demolished and the site landscaped ahead of its final redevelopment.”

West Lindsey District Council say that they are not phased by the legal obstacles, and believe that their plans will go ahead to bring a great deal of jobs, investment, growth and regeneration to the town.

A spokesman added: “The Council does not see any legal barrier to the redevelopment it is proposing for this area. The uses proposed would benefit the whole of Gainsborough, continue its successful regeneration, create jobs and enhance the town.”

A Lindum Group spokesman said: “We will continue to work with operators so we can bring the site forward. Although it will have to be phased.”

Liberal Democrat Councillor Trevor Young, who represents Gainsborough’s South West Ward, said that he welcomed the judicial review as it could help towards making the decision-making process more transparent..

“I think there’s a growing concern among councillors and across all political groups,” said Coun Young.

“We describe ourselves as being transparent and up-front - and this review will challenge that thought, and myself and an increasing amount of other councillors from all parties will welcome that.”

Coun Young said that while he hoped the development would still go ahead, WLDC has questions to answer to show the public how such decisions are reached.

“A challenging time for the council lies ahead,” he said. “A lot of queries need to be answered to ensure that we have gone through the proper routes and processes. I still hope that the development goes ahead, as it is a desperately needed investment for the area and could act as the catalyst for many other things - but first, there are questions that need answering to satisfy councillors and the townspeople.”

- What do YOU think of the plans suggested for the Elswitha Quarter?

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