Major plans for dozens of new houses, a riverside hotel and a pub in Burton town centre are finally set to be determined.

The scheme for the old Bargates shopping centre site fronting the River Trent doeshas led to strong opposition, including a petition signed by more than a thousand people and from the nearby Burton Bridge Brewery which says its delivery lorries would not be about to get to the brewery making its business "unworkable".

Many of those who objected did not want to see so many houses built, saying the site should be used for entertainment instead and that the planned flats looked like "prison-like".

And if the scheme does go ahead Burton could lose out on more than £100,000 in developers' contributions towards things like doctor surgeries because the developer says it cannot afford to pay as the margins in the project are too tight, a report has revealed.

The plan is to build a mix of 72 sheltered housing units and other homes, a hotel and a pub on the one-acre site between the River Trent and High Street, in Burton, and set to be finally decided at a council meeting next week when it recommended for approval.

But while developers are usually expected to pay money towards services which would be affected by new housing, such as schools and doctors surgeries, the Bargates applicant Jessups Build Develop will be not be required to pay this cash for "financial reasons" after stating there is not enough viability in the scheme to provide contributions as many of the homes would be affordable ones.

East Staffordshire Borough Council, as the planning authority, can impose conditions on developers that the cash be paid but in a report to the planning committee, council officers have said: "Overall it is considered that the benefits of the scheme which is the delivery of a high quality scheme of affordable housing, in particular sheltered accommodation on a brownfield site where its redevelopment has been a longstanding planning policy objective, outweigh the requirement for the financial contributions sought."

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The applicant has agreed to monitoring of any highways issues, by way of a travel plan and would allow for a full highways assessment at a future date if the project is approved. No start date for the work has been revealed as yet.

There would be two phases of the development which will be discussed at the borough council's planning committee meeting on Tuesday, September 28.

The first phase would see 72 sheltered houses, 10 homes, 13 apartments, and two offices built

The second phase seeks permission for the hotel, a pub with associated parking and up to four homes and eight apartments.

It comes four years after a first application for the site was submitted and later withdrawn, and more than 10 years since the old shopping centre and bowling alley were bulldozed.

The application has attracted 38 letters of objection, including two petitions signed by a total of more than 1,300 people.

Objections had included one from the borough council's own tree officer who said the proposed development would see the removal of a large number of mature trees, including protected ones, saying there was no replacement offered except for a 'feature tree'. There would be 39 removed.

The development fronting High Street

However since this objection the landscape proposals for the site have been amended to include the planting of 94 trees across phase 1. Some of these trees will be in private gardens, but the majority will be in public areas, the report says.

The council's waste manager also raised concerns about the layout of the development, which "would require refuse vehicles to make difficult manoeuvres, including reversing in and among parked cars, in pedestrian areas".

The many other objections:

Burton Bridge Brewery, whose rear delivery area backs onto the site, also objected saying its delivery vehicles would not be able to manoeuvre around the site, making the business unworkable.

Other objections claim the application should not be residential led but should include cafes, restaurant and such similar to Willington marina, with small shops, and area grassed for picnics, and walkways to the river. They also claim there is a need for family entertainment, not housing, to bring visitors and money to the north end of High Street and, "not to blindly fulfil housing quotas".

The proposed plan for Bargates could see 95 homes built on the one-acre site fronting the River Trent
The proposed plan for Bargates could see many homes built on the one-acre site fronting the River Trent

Other objections liken the design to 'prison-like looking flats'.

Others claimed the local doctors surgeries were already overcrowded and that losing parking spaces from High Street as part of the plan was "unacceptable".

It did receive one letter of support which states the proposal which claimed the plan would not have an adverse impact on neighbours or highway safety or increase the risk of flooding.

However, the planning officers' report said that while the development would see a loss of open spaces and trees, "this needs to be weighed against the scheme".

The report concluded: "The development of this site for residential purposes is acceptable in principle being located in the defined settlement boundary for Burton on an existing developed site. The application site constitutes previously developed land on a site where there has been a long standing ambition to redevelop.

"Although the application would see the loss of an area of open space and trees the application represents regeneration of a brownfield site within the town centre.

"While there are concerns over the level of contribution which can be sought from the development and as such the application can not provide all the infrastructure necessary to meet those set out in consultee responses this needs to be weighed against the benefits of the scheme which are to develop a previously developed site, provide high quality managed affordable housing and market housing which would meet local needs in Burton, including the needs of older residents.

"It is considered that the proposed layout will not unacceptably affect the character or appearance of its surroundings, the amenities enjoyed by the occupiers of nearby homes, the safe or or efficient use of the highway network or protected species and their habitat."

The council had asked for this money towards services (but will now not get it):

The developer has said there is not enough viability in the scheme to provide contributions as many of the homes would be affordable.

As part of the application, each authority is able to request funding and here is what would have been asked for.

Education: £37,440 to go towards education provision at Holy Trinity CE (C) Primary School and Abbot Beyne School and Burton High Cluster.

How the Bargates development on the site of the former shopping centre in Burton near the River Trent might look
How the Bargates development in Burton could look

Health: £44,940 to go towards healthcare provision at Wetmore Road Surgery, Peel Croft Surgery and Gordon Street Surgery.

Trees: £19,600 for the National Forest Company's off-site planting.

Open space: Given the close proximity to the Washlands, Open Spaces would be seeking an off-site contribution for this development. Based on the number and size of the homes this would be £50,000.

Travel: Travel Plan monitoring Fee £12,138 for each travel plan.

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