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The preferred developer for Northampton's Greyfriars site has begun ground investigations there.
Various checks will take place this month on the old bus station site - which was demolished last year.
Proposals include shops, restaurants, housing and a cinema. The Borough Council is expected to consider a formal agreement with the developer next year.
"It's great to see the company making a start on site investigations, which further demonstrates their confidence in taking the scheme forward. We believe the scheme will be of huge benefit to Northampton, bringing more people to live in the area, and creating some fantastic facilities which will tie it into the wider town centre."
During the next fortnight, the developer's construction partner, R G Carter, has arranged for its in-house soils investigation company to bore piles over 20-metres deep.
The soil conditions will be analysed to ensure that the scheme is designed as efficiently as possible, ensuring best value from the outset. It will also help determine the type of construction for the striking scheme.
Following our selection as the Council's partner in September, we are pleased to be making good progress on all fronts. In order to meet the delivery programme, we have commissioned Carter to carry out the technical due diligence like these soil surveys, commissioned Bidwells to coordinate the preparation of the planning application, and Peter Brett Associates to start the Highway design. This is all in tandem with documenting the legal arrangements."