£44m hotel complex for Glasgow's East End put on hold

A £44million hotel development for Glasgow's East End has been put on ice.

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The East End hotel complex development has been put on ice
The East End hotel complex development has been put on ice

Developer Kevin Fawcett today warned his firm would not be able to proceed with plans to build a hotel, shopping and leisure complex for the time being.

The city-based entrepreneur blamed delays on the failure of council bosses to prove an area designated for the private scheme was free of contaminated land.

However Glasgow officials insisted the site was clean and denied they owed Mr Fawcett any paperwork.

The proposed complex was supposed to be put up on a vacant plot right next to the Emirates Arena and Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.

Already dubbed The Arena, the development was to have created 400 full-time jobs at a 160-room three-star hotel, community centre, minimarket, chemist shop, takeaway and unspecified leisure facility.

Mr Fawcett said: "This complex is fully-funded and 95% pre-let, including a deal with Tulip Inn for the hotel.

"Our investors are saying 'Let's go' and are totally ready to begin work.

"However, they can't proceed until they get essential paperwork, standard documentation, from the council saying the site is clean, or, if it is not clean, that there are warranties for it.

"The fact the council can't give us this necessary paperwork is very sad and very strange."

Mr Fawcett and his associates, who include another developer, Charles Price, have been interested in developing Glasgow's East End for some years.

They have an option to buy the site for The Arena, which is on the corner of Springfield Road and London Road, and were scheduled to finalise payment for it some time ago.

However, a council source said the demand for documentation was a "delaying tactic".

An official council spokesman said: "The developer has committed to buy the land and the payment has been overdue for some time."

He added: "There are no reports, warranties or any other paperwork about decontamination the developer needs that would prevent him from paying the council for the land.

"This land has been decontaminated and any suggestion otherwise would be completely untrue."

Mr Fawcett denies his demand for paperwork is a delaying tactic.

He said: "Absolutely not. Any funder in the world requires surety over what they are buying."

The site for The Arena is fenced off. Commonwealth Games planners would expect any construction so close to their flagship venues to be completed months before events begin in July next year.

Mr Fawcett says there is no prospect of the full complex being constructed and little chance of even part of it being done before the Games to avoid having an uglyconstruction site next to the Velodrome and Celtic Park during the Games.

Mr Fawcett said: "It would not be possible to get the full complex built prior to the Games. Equally, the 400 new jobs are not going to be there prior to the Games."

"It might be possible to concentrate on the hotel and have a go at building it on time.

"But I honestly don't think it would be, even if the council suddenly got tuned in to the way modern business works and provided the necessary paperwork."

The developer says he is mystified by the delay.

Mr Fawcett believes it was an "extraordinary achievement" to have pre-let The Arena in the current economic climate and remains hopeful he can – in the long term – complete the project.

Dutch-owned Tulip Inn has confirmed its interest.

Mr Fawcett said: "We are going to carry on trying our very best to get the relevant paperwork as soon as we can to get on with the project."

There are currently no quality hotels in the East End.

Lynnet Leisure, part of the business empire of night-life entrepreneur James Mortimer, has also applied for planning permission for a hotel near Celtic Park, which is just opposite the Emirates Arena and Velodrome.

david.leask@ heraldandtimes.co.uk

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