The decade-long saga over the 450,000 sq ft (41,805 sq m) redevelopment of Bath's Southgate shopping district has moved a step closer to resolution.
A compulsory purchase order (CPO) request has been submitted to Bath & North East Somerset Council to enable the recently-approved£100 million-plus scheme to proceed.
Morley Fund Management, which represents CGNU Life Assurance, owns much of the site on a long lease from the council, but it needs to acquire other areas for the scheme to be viable. If the council approves the CPO request, the acquisition process could begin before the end of this year.
The council wants to see a retail revival at Southgate, preventing the decline of Bath as a regional shopping and tourist destination.
In addition to 404,220 sq ft (37,550 sq m) of retail space, the proposal includes 37,900 sq ft (3,520 sq m) of leisure space and 24,510 sq ft (2,275 sq m) of restaurant space.
The council recognises that the present appearance of Southgate - one of the main gateways into Bath - detracts from the city's status as a regional destination and a World Heritage site.
The existing road system also creates conflict between pedestrians and vehicles.
However, because of the sensitivity of the site, negotiations between the council and Morley have been plagued by disputes, particularly over design issues.
The CPO request is seen as a sign that both sides are now committed to pushing the scheme forward.