REGENERATION bosses in Sunderland are preparing a bid for the former Vaux brewery site - but have warned owners Tesco they will force through a sale if needed.
The supermarket owns the site, along the banks of the River Wear, which developers Sunderland arc (CORR) say is crucial to reviving the city centre.
Sunderland arc wants to create 1,000 homes, offices, two hotels, leisure facilities, shops, bars and restaurants on the site, at the gateway to Sunderland city centre.
Tesco until recently remained firmly committed to their own plans to build a superstore there.
These plans were dented last August when a Government inspector ruled the site could only be used for mixed used developments - in effect giving the green light to the redevelopment agency’s £300m scheme.
Now bosses at Sunderland arc are awaiting the results of their own valuation as they hope to speed up the five-year planning battle.
National property consultants, GVA Lamb and Edge have been appointed by One NorthEast to undertake the valuation.
David Walker, chief executive at Sunderland arc, said they were continuing to negotiate with Tesco.
He said: “We are continuing our dialogue with Tesco over the purchase of the site.
“We have kept them updated on our progress and meetings are scheduled to discuss the matter further. Clearly the valuation plays a large part in these discussions.”
Mr Walker added he has secured in advance the option of using a compulsory purchase order (CPO) should Tesco continue to delay the sale.
Mr Walker said this was not the preferred method and was hopeful that an agreement could be reached with Tesco.
Any CPO would have to be agreed by the Government, and any objections would lead to a lengthy public inquiry.
The development plans, which should create up to 3,000 jobs, have already gone through a public inquiry in 2006 and an independent Government assessment of the site was completed this year.
A spokesman for Tesco said they were eager to discuss the proposals.
“We share local people’s frustration that the Vaux site has been derelict for so long.
“We would much prefer to work in partnership with Sunderland arc to deliver a world class proposal for the site.
“The Vaux is big enough for a range of uses, including homes, offices, cafes bars and a Tesco store.”