THE future development of a leisure complex at Northgate in Bridgwater will be led by Sedgemoor District Council.

For some time, the district authority and Somerset County Council have been working together on the future of the site and in September the first phase of development – the new Northgate Primary School – opened its doors to pupils.

There is also a conditional contract in place with a retailer to create a store on the former Enterprise Centre area, adjacent to the new school, and it is anticipated a planning application will be submitted in early 2018 for that part of the site.

As for the former Splash site and public car park at Mount Street, the overall Masterplan agreed in November 2015 outlined plans for leisure facilities, including a cinema complex with associated food outlets and car parking.

A Sedgemoor District Council spokesman said: “Guided by the requirements of the masterplan, three suitable bids from investors were received to develop the Mount Street element of the Northgate project for leisure purposes, which additionally suggested provision for a gym and a hotel.

“The councils were satisfied that all the bidders were capable of delivering the development. 

“However, it was felt that the full financial benefit of the schemes being developed was not reflected in the value of the land or in the profit-share arrangements being proposed, therefore, both councils agreed to not accept any bids for the Mount Street site at this stage.”

Sedgemoor District Council says it is looking to adopt a more ‘commercial approach’ in light of central Government funding cuts, and had therefore agreed to investigate whether the project can be financed and developed by the councils themselves.

This would mean the councils keeping the ownership of the land - and retaining profits relating to the development.

To enable this approach to move forward, Somerset County Council has agreed to sell its interest in the site to Sedgemoor, therefore letting Sedgemoor pursue a self-financed development of the leisure scheme.
Sedgemoor District Council corporate director, Doug Bamsey, said:

“There are a number of advantages to doing it this way. There is a greater degree of control in how we shape the development going forward, and we can also create rent generation for the town centre. It is still early days and the process of procurement is a long one.”

Sedgemoor District Council is now preparing to notify the development industry of its intentions through the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) process. The council says further details will be made available later this month.