Work on the New Retail Quarter, due to start in January has been put back to August 2009. Council bosses are upbeat about the reasons for the delay but the Green Party believes Hammersons, the chosen developers, are worried about the changing economic climate and are hedging their bets.
Cllr Jillian Creasy, who represents Central ward, which includes the city centre said:
“We are not surprised at the news that Hammersons wish to delay the start of this giant shopping centre. We are facing a triple crunch of credit-fuelled financial crisis, accelerating climate change and soaring energy prices. The age of consuming three times our fair share of the planet’s resources is coming to an end.
“The Council must not accept a cheap-skate version of the same plan, especially if economies are made at the expense of public realm and “green” features.
“The best thing that could happen is for a complete rethink of the New Retail Quarter project and the City Centre Masterplan. We believe new developments should be future-proof. The global economy is increasingly volatile, so new buildings should be capable of accommodating locally owned businesses and shops, not designed purely for chain stores. There should be affordable housing, community facilities and new green spaces, not just one- and two-bed luxury apartments overlooking shopping malls.
“We need to start again with a people-centred, not profit-centred planning process which will come up with solutions fit for the very different challenges of the 21st century.”