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Sunderland's Vaux Brewery farrago set to be resolved

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After seven years of uncertainty and delay, a long-awaited decision on the future of the hotly disputed Vaux Brewery site in Sunderland finally looks to be on the cards.

Communities Minister Ruth Kelly has officially told regeneration company Sunderland Arc she will make a decision on its proposed compulsory purchase of the former brewery by the end of March.

The move will effectively settle a clash between Piers Gough and Michael Aukett, who have drawn up rival schemes for the plot.

Sunderland Arc wants to build a massive mixed-use scheme on the riverside site designed by Gough's practice CZWG (pictured).

However, although the company has already won planning permission for its proposals, Sunderland Arc still needs to secure a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to prise the land from current owner Tesco.

The supermarket giant, on the other hand, wants to move forward with its own retail-led development, drawn up by Aukett.

Back in October 2005, a spat broke out between the two architects, with Gough claiming the Aukett's speculative designs were 'unimaginably bad'. Aukett responded by saying the Sunderland Arc development was not 'commercially viable' (Aukett and Gough in Sunderland face-off).

A decision on the public inquiry into the CPO had been expected by the end of January, however early this week Kelly said she needed more information about the Gough masterplan before making up her mind.

by Richard Waite

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