Work on the huge £500 million Arena Central development in Birmingham is likely be put on hold for at least six months, a developer has revealed.
The Miller Group, one of two firms behind the long-awaited project, said the final details of a revamped masterplan for the scheme were being thrashed out. In March, Edinburghbased Miller said work might start on the project this year if a plan was submitted to Birmingham City Council and it gained consent.
A spokeswoman for the council said the authority had to approve a detailed application for the work to go ahead but it had not yet received one. She said: "We expect it to come in this autumn." Outline planning permission for the project was granted by the Government in 2000, she said.
Miller finance director John Richards said yesterday: "Outline consent has already been granted and we are now working towards getting final detailed planning approval. It's difficult to tell time-scales where planning issues are concerned but we're probably looking at work proper starting in six months to a year."
Miller and Bridgehouse Capital, the investment company set up by Midland millionaire Andy Ruhan, are behind a joint venture, Arena Central Developments, which is running the project.
The partners merged their land interests on the Arena Central site in the city centre, which involves the Alpha Tower and the former ATV premises.
They envisage the 7.6 acre site will be transformed into one of the UK's largest city centre developments with up to 2.3 million sq ft of offices, plus residential, leisure and retail space. The application includes the construction of a tower on the site. Once under way the project may create 2,000 new jobs.
Mr Richards said: "We are proposing to create 2,000 residential units with around 500 of them in the tower and the overall cost of the project would be around half a billion pounds." The initial proposal involved a 175 metre high tower, the tallest building outside London.
Those plans were thrown into doubt following the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Meanwhile Miller Group chief executive Keith Miller unveiled half yearly results which showed a 12th successive year of interim profit growth.
He reported a 63 per cent increase in profit before tax to £38.7 million and the company increased its interim share dividend by 25 per cent to
11.4p per share, up from 9.1p.
Chairman Bob Speirs said the period had shown excellent progress for the group.
Profit before interest and disposal of fixed assets was £41.1 million, a 28 per cent increase.
Finance director Mr Richards said the group had a range of housing projects in the Midlands but they tended to be weighted towards the east of the region. A greater emphasis would be placed on developing the West Midlands market, he added.
Projects include developments in Wolverhampton; Solihull; St Paul's Square, Birmingham; Warwick and Great Barr.