Long Table founder Tom Herbert has slammed council plans to develop Brimscombe Port as ‘terrible’ and ‘out of date’.
The council are pushing ahead with demolition without a developer and the proposals do not include connecting the canal, Mr Herbert highlighted.
He alleged Stroud District Council (SDC) refused to include the Grace Network, which runs the Long Table, in the proposed £2.9m development – a claim the council have rejected.
“I think it sounds like a terrible plan. I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole, if you pardon the pun,” said Tom, whose social enterprise is known for making pay-as-you-feel meals using surplus food throughout the pandemic.
“To me it’s a 10 year old plan that doesn’t take into account how the world and the site has evolved, with Rush skatepark included.”
“It risks killing the social enterprises on site and I just don’t understand why that’s necessary.”
“That space does belongs to the community, it was bought by the council, and I think just replacing it with a carpark and some houses and a pleasure pond – the huge amount of work and the risk of it being derelict in order to build that – just seems like a really rubbish trade-off.”
The Long Table and Rush skatepark have both been served eviction notices by the council and the development was included in the terms of their leases, but both enterprises have struggled to find new sites despite investigating 20 between them.
Mr Herbert said he wanted to see the port developed but had little faith in ‘flattening it’ and hoping a developer will invest.
“We said if there’s a development could having the Long Table as part of that not be an option, and we were told categorically no [by the council].
“We’ve been there for seven years, why can’t we be included in the conversation about what happens next. The bats are afforded that privilege,” he added.
Thrupp ward councillor Beki Aldam said the council is seeking a developer and that a future bid for connecting the canal would be more likely successful once the port is developed.
“Residents of Brimscombe and the surrounding area have waited a long time for this, and we cannot delay further,” said Clr Aldam.
She continued: “We are currently working closely with The Grace Network on a transition plan that will be amenable to both parties. The council recognises the valuable work that this organisation does and we want to continue to have a positive relationship with them.
“We have encouraged The Grace Network to find a way to be part of the new development through working with a developer. The council would welcome this.”
SDC has already committed £1.16m to develop the site, £2million has been committed by Homes England and £776,000 from the Government One Public Estate fund.
Stroud District Council leader Doina Cornell said: “We now reach a stage of our project where current tenancies have to end, in order for vital work to continue this project.
“If it doesn’t continue to progress, the council and community are both in danger of losing the funding and even the site.
“The council want this site to be something the local community treasure for many years to come and we are working carefully to ensure that it is an exciting, community-centred project.”