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Deal secures future of A-listed Greenock industrial icon

3 April 2008

Riverside Inverclyde, the company formed to regenerate almost five miles of derelict waterfront at the Tail of the Bank, today (Wed April 2) signed a £3.7m deal with Clydeport’s parent company Peel Holdings to carry out vital remedial work on the A-listed Sugar Warehouse in Greenock.

The joint venture, funded equally by the two organisations, will result in the Sugar Warehouse, Scotland's largest surviving cast iron and brick industrial building, being made wind and watertight and secured for future planned development. The remedial work starts immediately.

Work on the building known locally as the Sugar Sheds – a relic of the time when Greenock was the sugar refining capital of the world with famous companies like Tate & Lyle - is being carried out in partnership with Inverclyde Council and Historic Scotland, who have both been closely involved in the project.

Riverside Inverclyde chief executive Bill Nicol said: "The Sugar Warehouse is an iconic building that has strong cultural and historical links to Inverclyde. We are pleased to be working with Peel and Clydeport to carry out a series of stage one works to preserve the building as a key part of the overall proposals for the comprehensive redevelopment of the surrounding James Watt Dock and Garvel Island area.

Inverclyde Council’s convener of regeneration, Councillor Jim Clocherty, said: “This building has been a landmark in Inverclyde for over 120 years and all of our communities will be delighted to see work starting on it. The regeneration of Inverclyde is vital to its future and the Council is glad to be working with Clydeport and Riverside Inverclyde on this project, which we are confident will be part of the jigsaw that sees the area move forward over the next few years.”

Specialist architects FSP have been commissioned by Peel Holdings to develop a mixed residential and retail plan at the Sugar Warehouse, considered in the context of the proposals for the wider area. FSP is widely recognised as the leader in its field, and has worked on similar key English waterfront mixed use developments, including Liverpool's Albert Dock, London's West India Quay and Hayle Harbour in Cornwall - all centred round retained industrial landmark buildings.

The main concept for the James Watt Dock area is to create a critical mass of mixed use activity where people can work, live and play within a comprehensive lifestyle development, and the Sugar Warehouse will be a focal point for this.

Initial feasibility studies have established that the building’s basic structure is physically capable of conversion and that the building could accommodate a mixed development comprising retail, leisure and residential end uses. However it was urgently recommended that further deterioration had to be arrested by carrying out essential wind and watertight repairs.

These had to be at least sufficient to hold the Sugar Warehouse in its present condition, pending the progression of a formal joint venture agreement between Clydeport and Riverside Inverclyde, and the subsequent agreement of multi purpose options for the building and the wider James Watt Dock area.

Clydeport property director Euan Jamieson said: "It is vital that this work is carried out on this important building, and we are glad to co-fund the project. The Sugar Warehouse is a great opportunity, but it is also a major challenge which has not proved possible to overcome and realise in the past. However this new partnership between Riverside Inverclyde and Peel has brought together the strength of both public and private sectors, making the project now possible.”

Historic Scotland principal inspector Ranald Macinnes said: “The Sugar Warehouse is a marvel of 19th century engineering and ambition. It is a reflection of not only industrial past of Greenock, but of Scotland. I look forward to this incredible building becoming a great example of sustainability and of how our historic buildings can play a part in revitalising communities while preserving their sense of place in a modern Scotland.”

NB: Euan Jamieson available for further comment via the BIG Partnership – see below
Bill Nicol available for further comment on 01475 883 106
Issued by the BIG partnership on behalf of Clydeport and Riverside Inverclyde
Contact:  Alex Hamilton  0141 333 9585 or 07812 138701 and Emmy Young  0141 333 9585 or 07824 388514

Further notes to editors:

Riverside Inverclyde:
Riverside Inverclyde is the local Urban Regeneration Company established to drive the delivery of a focused, integrated regeneration programme for Inverclyde, and strategically guide investment decisions by both the public and private sectors. The £400m joint initiative between Scottish Enterprise, Inverclyde Council and Clydeport will, over the next 10 years, dramatically reshape the environmental and economic future of five miles of waterfront from Port Glasgow to Greenock, spreading the benefit of new investment to the wider Inverclyde area. The partnership is fully supported by the Scottish Government and has been designed to secure the long-term economic growth of Inverclyde by increasing employment rates and average earnings as well as the percentage of small to medium sized businesses.

Clydeport is Scotland’s major west coast intercontinental and Atlantic-facing port operator. Core business is the management of the River Clyde and the provision of port facilities and services, but the company also has extensive landholdings throughout the West of Scotland, and is increasingly involved in property investment and development. Clydeport is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Peel Holdings, and together with the Manchester Ship Canal and the Mersey Docks & Harbour Company makes up the Peel Ports division of the group.

Sugar Warehouse:
Built between 1882 and 1886 to designs by Walter Kinipple, the 700-ft long Warehouse was constructed in four red-brick sections with arches and pilasters in yellow brick. It is an A-listed building, recognised as a fine example of early industrial architecture, with an unusual feature of a colonnade of cast iron columns forming a sheltered unloading area next to the quayside. Largely abandoned since the 1960s, it has been on the Scottish Buildings at Risk Register since 1995 and was included in the World Monuments Fund’s List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the World 2001 as Scotland's largest cast iron and brick industrial building.

The Sugar Trade and Greenock
Sugar refining began in Greenock in the mid 18th century. John Walker began a sugar refinery in Greenock in 1850 followed by local cooper and shipowner Abram Lyle who, with partners, purchased the Glebe Sugar Refinery in 1865. Over a dozen refineries were active at one point. The most famous of these was Tate & Lyle, formed from a merger between Abram Lyle and Henry Tate, who had set up a sugar refinery in Liverpool. By the end of the 19th century, 400 ships a year were transporting sugar from there to Greenock for processing. Tate and Lyle closed its Greenock refinery in 1997, ending the town's long connections with sugar manufacture.

For further information

Lesley Brown
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07788 923873