High Court victory means Grimsby ‘eyesore’ precinct Freeman Street can be redeveloped for markets, housing and shopping

Scheme architect Mark Hodson and Freemen Chairman Stephen White welcome the High Court’s decision on the redevelopment of the rundown area

The long-awaited regeneration of Grimsby’s Freeman Street has received a huge boost after the run-down precinct was brought back into town hands following a High Court ruling.

Freeholders, Grimsby’s Enrolled Freemen, have ambitious plans to transform the prominent stretch of the once-proud street with housing, commerce and cultural assets.

But the legal position  had been in dispute as the land was leased to the Second Covent Garden Property Company Ltd in 1969, for a period of 125 years with a promise of redevelopment. The lease was then sold on, with the freehold then bought by another company, Agra, in 1998, on the basis the company would redevelop. That deal included a clause that it could be bought back if the development did not proceed. Agra subsequently went into administration and was then liquidated,  with the lease for the property then being transferred to the Crown.

Last week the High Court granted an order returning the property to the Freemen giving them sole ownership. The order will be formalised on March 25 2018.

Chairman of the Freemen, Stephen White, said: “The Freemen have had a historic role in the development of Grimsby from the earliest medieval times. The successful European Regional Development Fund bid for the market and business hub shows that we have been able to continue that historic role today.

“We have worked closely with North East Lincolnshire Council and Shoreline Housing Partnership on the revitalisation of the Freeman Street area. The opportunity came up to bring the former Freeman Street Shopping Centre back into the Freemen’s ownership and we have taken a bold decision to rescue and redevelop the site to stop it becoming a blight on the area.

“We will be working with partners to manage and redevelop the site in the coming days and weeks.”

Funding options will also be looked at, building on the success with the market, with the “appetite for housing” and Homes England flagged up, with green credentials at the fore.

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