Derelict buildings on Sandbrook Way in Woodvale in Southport

An eyesore site in Southport which has been plagued by vandalism could soon be replaced by a new supermarket. 

The Sandbrook Way Neighbourhood Centre in Woodvale and the properties around it, including the former Sandpiper pub, have fallen victim to disrepair and anti-social behaviour in recent times. 

The pub has since been demolished while Sefton Council has been in the process of buying up the leases owned by the remaining home owners and businesses. 

The local authority may utilise Compulsory Purchase Orders if it cannot negotiate the final leases. 

Council officers have now completed a Development Brief for the site which will be used to attract potential new owners, with the aim of transforming the site, creating new jobs and creating a much-improved area. 

At Sefton’s Cabinet meeting next week, councillors will be asked to allow officers to progress market testing of the area to identify developer interest. 

In his report, Sefton Council Assistant Director of Place (Economic Growth and Housing) Stuart Barnes said: “In order to bring forward comprehensive development of this site the whole site needs to be within Council ownership. 

“Considerable progress has been made, through negotiation by agreement, with a number of the leasehold interest for the site however there remain a number of leaseholders with which Sefton Council has been unable to yet reach agreement. 

“Sefton Council is considering using compulsory acquisition powers to conclude these negotiations and in order to do this, the Council needs to be able to demonstrate it has a viable and deliverable development proposal for the site. Sefton Council therefore needs to market the opportunity and establish market interest.” 

In February 2020 Cabinet approval was obtained to address the longstanding antisocial and environmental blight caused by the properties in Ainsdale by acquiring all of the existing leasehold interests in the site, bringing it all back into Council ownership and control. 

Previous attempts to secure a development partner were unable to progress due to one of the leasehold owners failing to agree terms for disposal of their interest in the site. 

Members consequently agreed to try and negotiate by agreement all of the leasehold interests in the site and that has been a focus for the Council since 2020. 

The acquisition process with owners through negotiation and agreement has progressed with approximately 50% of current interests agreeing to or having already disposed of their interest to Sefton Council.

Stuart Barnes added: “In order to secure a developer partner, an Options Appraisal report was undertaken by local property consultants on behalf of the Council which identified that the most deliverable use for the site would be a food retail-based scheme. 

“In order to confirm the demand for this use, it is recommended that the Council go out to the market to identify interest in the site through an ‘Expressions of Interest’ (EoI) process.

“Consultation with local community representatives was undertaken as part of the option appraisal process and agreeing the preferred option for this site.

“Council Officers have a list of organisations who are active in the food retail sector and the EoI document will be targeted to them. 

“They will typically be food discounters along with other interests who are more flexible in their size and format and developers and agents who act on behalf of a range of related development types. 

“It is anticipated that the final development proposal would be primarily retail with associated minor development, depending on market interest.” 

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