Could Government Growing Places Fund unlock the stalled Octagon retail park planned for Ely?

Brochure launching the Octagon at a time when Tesco was lined up as the anchor store

Brochure launching the Octagon at a time when Tesco was lined up as the anchor store - Credit: Archant

The Government’s £730 million Growing Places Fund could be the key to unlocking the Octagon Park retail and business park in Ely.

East Cambridgeshire District Council revealed this week it is working with the developer Mantle Estates to submit a bid under the scheme to support key infrastructure on the site.

The scheme was granted permission two years ago for a retail park comprising a food store, petrol filling station, non-food outlets, and a pub/hotel and five acres of commercial land for offices.

However the project suffered a setback at the beginning of 2015 when Tesco announced it would no longer for an anchor store for the Octagon..

This week the district council provided an update on the development by announcing its team had provided input to a refreshed retail impact assessment for the Octagon.

“Opportunities for loan funding have also been promoted to the developers,” says a report to the governance committee.

The report strikes an optimistic note that next year could see commencement of “delivery of scheme and associated funding bids/section 106 agreement”.

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The council was told marketing and promotion of commercial elements of the site would be encouraged in 2017.

The Growing Places Fund was set up to support key infrastructure projects designed to unlock wider economic growth, create jobs and build houses in England.

A Government spokesman said: “The fund is an important boost for local economies and provides a major opportunity for local enterprise partnerships and local authorities to identify and prioritise the infrastructure they need for growth.

“A large number of these schemes have been stalled or delayed due to instances of prior lack of investment in infrastructure or land assembly through market or the planning process.”

The spokesman added: “Unlocking the investment problems with the Growing Places Fund according to local economic priorities is a tangible delivery of this government’s localism agenda.

“The range of projects being supported by the Growing Places Fund includes site access/site clearance, broadband and transport infrastructure, utilities, refurbishment of buildings and flood defence barriers.”