The ambitious plan to create a 350-berth marina with 650 homes on 90 acres of disused former railway sidings will be the biggest project ever undertaken in Cumbria by Story Group, whose chief executive is former Carlisle United Football Club owner Fred Story.
Called Marina Village, it will also feature a hotel, sports facility and retail space for bars, restaurants and shops which will transform the redundant waterfront area into a thriving new community.
Marina Village is the centrepiece of The Waterfront Barrow-in-Furness regeneration scheme being masterminded by West Lakes Renaissance – the urban regeneration company for Furness and West Cumbria – and Barrow Borough Council.
Construction work on Marina Village’s mixed residential, retail and leisure development is not scheduled to start until 2011. It is then expected to take 10 years to complete, with 125 full-time construction jobs being created. The plan includes creating a marine link access for leisure boats from the Walney Channel into the dock area.
West Lakes Renaissance has confirmed that it is to open negotiations with Story Group, which includes Homes, Land and Construction divisions, over the coming months to refine the Marina Village project proposals. If those negotiations are successful, and funding is secured, WLR says an official agreement will be entered into, paving the way for work to begin.
Mr Story said he was delighted that his firm had been chosen and he welcomed the challenge the project presented. He said: “As a proud Cumbrian, it gives me tremendous pleasure for Story Group to have been chosen for such an ambitious and significant development, which we believe will change the face of Furness.
“Story Group recognise Barrow as a great place to be involved in and we are thrilled that a Cumbrian company has provided the best choice from all the potential developers to fulfil the key component – Marina Village. We have a track record of delivering successful projects and we are both determined and confident the plans will become a reality.
“We believe we have the full package of expertise and experience required as the developer for this particular project, combining our Homes, Construction and Land departments. We are also confident that our homes will be very well received in Barrow and will preserve our reputation for providing good quality properties that people want to live in, as was shown recently when we won the Daily Mail award for Best Development in Cumbria for Turnstone Park in Carlisle and Best Development in South West Scotland for Summerpark in Dumfries.”
Story Homes has already undertaken numerous successful property developments throughout Cumbria, such as, in Carlisle at Parkland Village, Shaddon Mill and Vallum Gardens as well as ones at Fairladies in St Bees and at Lingla Gardens near Frizington. North of the border Story are currently progressing with their 125-acre, 1,000-home development at Marchfield in Dumfries. Story Homes are also currently developing proposals for a revolutionary 800-home eco village in Carlisle, at Crindledyke, north of the city.
The properties in Marina Village at Barrow will include apartments, terraced, semi-detached and detached houses, ranging from two-bedrooms to five-bedrooms. Marina Village will be the heart of The Waterfront Barrow-in-Furness development, which is the biggest single proposed development in the town since it grew from a small fishing village into a world-renowned base for the steel and ship building industry more than a century ago. The overall development also includes Waterfront Business Park, providing space for a wide range of businesses which could create up to 1,500 new jobs.
Bob Pointing, WLR’s chief executive, said: “This is an important milestone in realising our vision for a new sustainable community on Barrow’s dockland. Marina Village is the jewel in the crown of the town’s regeneration and is set to become a striking symbol of Barrow’s future.”
“There is still a lot of hard work to be carried out to ensure this major development delivers real economic benefit to the area. With Barrow’s economy very much on the up thanks primarily to investment in the town’s world-class naval industry, we remain confident this vision will become reality. It is also satisfying that we will be working with a Cumbrian developer with a good understanding of the needs of Barrow.”
The selection of Story Group comes a year after WLR staged a developers event in Barrow Town Hall, which around 40 companies attended to learn more about the proposals. They had until December 2007 to express an interest in the scheme. A shortlist was then drawn up and a detailed selection process carried out before today’s decision was reached.
The Waterfront Barrow-in-Furness is a key regeneration project in the Cumbria Economic Plan, published by economic development agency Cumbria Vision last year. Other projects in the plan include the recently-launched Britain’s Energy Coast Masterplan; the continued development of the University of Cumbria, Carlisle Lake District Airport and the Derwent Forest site near Maryport, which is also set for a major leisure development.
The development is being backed by government money via the North West Development Agency and English Partnerships, as well as funding from on-site house sales after properties start being built from 2011.