A MULTI-MILLION pound scheme to transform Blackburn town centre into a heritage leisure, food and drink quarter could be scrapped because of a cash row.
The £3.8million scheme to turn the Northgate area into a visitor attraction could be delayed for years or even cancelled because of a disagreement between the borough council and a businessman.
MORE TOP STORIES:
The plan has already secured a £1.5million Heritage Lottery grant but now town hall bosses and the owner of part of key Victorian terrace cannot agree a price for his buildings.
Tomorrow the executive board of Blackburn with Darwen Council will be asked to start a process to acquire a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for 11 to 17 Blakey Moor Terrace because a price cannot be agreed with owner John Khattir.
The building, opposite King George's Hall which itself is scheduled for a facelift, is vital to the five-year project.
The scheme aims to create an area of cafes, coffee houses, bars and eateries with open space for residents and visitors to relax.
A study for the council suggests the terrace, the other part of which is already owned by the borough, could be home to two major restaurants.
Deputy chief executive Denise Park warns the senior councillors in a report: "Should an agreement not be reached, the project could be substantially delayed and at worst put at risk."
The process of obtaining the CPO could take two years if Mr Khattir, who owns The Godfather takeaway and surrounding land and buildings, objects and calls for a public inquiry.
The delay could lead to the Heritage Lottery Fund grant being withdrawn if work does not proceed to the agreed timetable.
Mr Khattir, who has run businesses in the area for more than 40 years, said: "We are currently in negotiations with the council to dispose of our holdings in Blakey Moor.
"I hope we can reach an agreement without the need for a Compulsory Purchase Order."
Council regeneration boss Cllr Phil Riley said: "We are in discussions with Mr Khattir and hope this dispute over the price can be resolved without the need for a CPO.
"This is a twin track strategy in case we cannot come to an agreement.The difference between us is substantial at the moment.
"This could delay the project significantly and at worst prevent it but we hope a deal can be reached soon."
Cllr John Slater, who leads the council's Conservative group, said: "I am concerned that an agreement has not been reached which could delay or put the the whole project at risk.
"This is the right approach but I hope a CPO can be avoided and I am also concerned this process could lead to escalating costs for the council."
Blackburn and District Chamber of Trade president Tony Duckworth said: "Starting a CPO is the right option but I hope it can be resolved long before one is necessary."
The Townscape Heritage project aims to transform the area around King George’s Hall, Blakey Moor, Northgate and Lord Street West.
The project aims to restore and refurbish up to 25 historic buildings and is focused on the Northgate Conservation area.
It includes a facelift for King George’s Hall and improvements to 150 properties in Blakey Moor, Northgate and Lord Street West.
Blakey Moor Terrace and Baroque pub premises would be restored to their former glory.