Major Letchworth development could be shelved

A MAJOR overhaul of The Wynd in Letchworth GC could be shelved due to the economic climate, the new boss of Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation has told The Comet in an exclusive interview.

In his first interview since he took over from Stuart Kenny last month, chief executive of the Heritage Foundation, John Lewis, has cast a shadow over the development planned for next year.

The plans include 26 new shops, 113 flats, 356 parking spaces and a play area, and is phase two of an ambitious town centre regeneration project by the Heritage Foundation.

The first phase – street improvement works on Eastcheap, Leys Avenue and Station Road – was completed this summer.

Referring to The Wynd development, Mr Lewis said: “In terms of the processes we have control of, it is on time.”

However, he added: “We need to make sure the economic world we are entering into is right.

“You have to have a look at the timing of investment, because really big retailers are being cautious at the moment.”

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He said he wants to ensure the retail scheme is going to attract enough traders into the new units.

“What I want to make sure of is that, before we or any partners start to invest, we understand the economic context its being done in,” Mr Lewis explained.

“We have to make sure investments are taken in the right way, because we could be spending money elsewhere.”

When asked if the scheme will definitely go ahead at some point in the future, Mr Lewis said: “There will definitely be a development in that area.”

The Heritage Foundation’s plans for The Wynd were given the green light by North Herts District Council in June 2008, despite opposition from English Heritage and over 2,500 letters of complaint.

And earlier this year the council granted a compulsory purchase order for the Heritage Foundation to take possession of every property in The Wynd.