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Inquiry Reports

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Day 23 - Destination Kirkby - Development too big for Kirkby's needs

The day began with Cushman and Wakefield's commercial matters expert Mark McVicar being cross examined by Mr Clarkson representing his clients Tesco and Everton.

Mr McVicar began by apologising to the inquiry because of an error in his proof of evidence, he had calculated the cost per seat using the stadium's potential capacity figure of 60,000 and not 50,000. This meant that the cost per seat was slightly higher than he had originally anticipated.

Mr Clarkson continued his questioning of Mr McVicar but this time it had more to do with the retail aspect of the development.

The applicants wanted to know how much of a threat Mr McVicar considered the Destination Kirkby plan would be on Liverpool One development in Liverpool city centre. Mr McVicar said it would have an affect as Tesco were hoping to encourage people to spend money in Kirkby. He also stated that Liverpool One had a positive effect on the city centre.

The matter of critical mass of retail arose and it was deemed unnecessary by Mr McVicar. It was said that Kirkby town centre as it currently stands can not attract larger commercial brands such as Marks and Spencer and that fellow retailers would not be attracted to Kirkby unless an anchor such as the aforementioned store was in place.

It was stated that Development Securities were interested in developing the existing town centre in partnership with Asda but Knowsley Council didn't feel the plan was right for Kirkby and they didn't believe the developer was fully committed.

Mr McVicar made the point that just because Tesco own the existing town centre at present, they may not always own it. He seemed to suggest that there was more interest in developing the land south of Cherryfield Drive than enhancing the existing town centre.

He reiterated that Kirkby should be encouraged to redevelop but on a less scale more fitting to the town's existing needs.

It was now time for Knowsley Council's counsel John Barrett to cross-examine Mr McVicar. Mr Barrett wanted to see the exclusivity development between Asda and Development Securities and asked whether Mr McVicar could obtain it for him. Mr McVicar told him it may be possible but it is unlikely as it is probably commercially confidential.

Mr Barret said that Development Securities' Plan A was to work with Tesco and Plan B was to work with Asda but Mr McVicar knew little about this and stated it was not unusual for developers to be having talks with more than prospective partner.

Mr McVicar, like most people believe that the retail park development would do very good business but he felt in the current economic climate it could challenge or impair the existing local traders in the town centre.

Knowsley's counsel then compared the areas Skelmersdale and and Kirkby. He referred to a report that Mr McVicar's company had prepared stating Skelmersdale must increase the amount of retail floor space should they wish to attract the bigger brand retailers, Mr Barret suggested the same must be true for Kirkby. Mr McVicar maintained that the proposed Destination Kirkby development is too big for Kirkby's needs but the final decision will be made by the secretary of state.

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