£82m Dudley Portersfield masterplan hit by roads row
An £82 million leisure and retail development which will transform Dudley could face another snag following confusion over road improvements.
Shops, bars, restaurants and a cinema will form part of the huge Portersfield development, which will involve the long-awaited demolition of the eyesore Cavendish House office block.
Officials in Dudley have been waiting years for the building that overlooks the Duncan Edwards Way bypass to be bulldozed.
However, a potentially embarrassing misunderstanding could create more problems for the scheme.
It has now emerged that, following the demolition of Cavendish House, developer Avenbury is not prepared to press ahead with the second phase of the scheme until new access roads and other improvements are in place - something which appears to have caught council bosses off guard.
The project will be carried out in five phases. The second phase involves the demolition of further buildings and site remediation.
It is hoped talks between both parties will result in a mutually acceptable solution and smooth over differences on the project.
A report to business leaders at the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said: "Members were advised that the developer would not progress to phase two until the road infrastructure was in place, as they were of the opinion that phase one was a standalone project.
"This was not the view of the accountable body and there had been no further progress.
"Members were advised that while it had been known that the proposed Portersfield development would require road infrastructure improvements would be required, the size of the ask had not been clear.
"It was suggested that the infrastructure improvements could be phased into smaller asks and members requested that the future update to the group, following further meetings with Dudley (Council) include a route map for members through all the issues requiring resolution."
Dudley Council leader Patrick Harley said: “Talks are ongoing with regards to possible changes to the roads around Cavendish House to facilitate a new development, but to suggest there has been a big disagreement is simply not true.
“In order to get hold of the funding from the LEP to progress the demolition of the building, Avenbury must sign a development agreement with the council. We are negotiating with them as we speak and it is our aim to tie up the loose ends around this as soon as possible.
“My opinions on this have always been clear – Cavendish House has been a blot on the skyline in Dudley for far too long and needs to come down as soon as possible. We will do everything in our power to make that happen.”
Approval was finally given for the demolition of Cavendish House in April, paving the way for the start of the Portersfield project.
Objections from heritage and religious groups over the demolition of historic buildings and the closeness of the development to a church have also caused a headache for planners.