No rebuild plan for Castlepoint in sight

First published in News by

NO detailed plan has yet been drawn up for the massive task of rebuilding the ailing car parks at Bournemouth's Castlepoint, it has been revealed.

Information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act says Bournemouth council "understands that no detailed proposals have been prepared" to rebuild the 3,000-space structure.

Earlier this year, centre bosses said they were hopeful that the major construction project would get underway in the early part of 2008.

A temporary fix has been in place since January 2006 after health and safety concerns over the car parks forced the sudden closure of Castlepoint the previous December.

It was later revealed the whole car park would have to be torn down and rebuilt at a cost estimated at £9 million. Centre bosses have conceded the process could mean temporary closure of some stores.

A Daily Echo reader submitted a Freedom of Information request to Bournemouth council because he was concerned about the effect on residents of a major construction programme.

The council's reply said: "We have not been given any details of the proposals for the rebuilding' of the car park and understand no detailed proposals have been prepared... we are unable to determine whether planning permission will be required for such work."

The statement said the question of whether planning permission was needed would depend on the extent of the proposed works. If planning permission was required, restrictions on working hours would be the same as at the time of the original development. If planning is not needed, the council has no powers to restrict working hours but could consider using environmental health legislation if there were problems.

Strouden Park councillor David Shaw said he understood talks were still going on about who should pay for the rebuilding. Original builder the Kier Group has in the past expressed confidence it would not be held liable and was reported to be in dispute with a sub-contractor.

Cllr Shaw said: "It's in the hands of lawyers because we don't know who's paying for what yet. I doubt it would be next year the car park is rebuilt. We don't know when."

In July, Castlepoint said work would get underway in the "early part of 2008". Bosses said they could not guarantee there would be no store closures.

Nine retailers had settled compensation claims for loss of profits from the closure in December 2005, including Hargreavres (Sports), Boots, Arcadia, New Look, Stylo Barratts and TK Maxx.

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