THE managers of a heritage trust in Jericho are putting in place final preparations to make an offer to buy a former boatyard site.

Last week, city council leader Bob Price announced plans to ask the Government to give it powers to make a compulsory purchase of the former Castle Mill boatyard, under the Sustainable Communities Act.

The council has pledged to use Government grants to buy the former boatyard on behalf of the Jericho Living Heritage Trust.

But Peter Strong, chairman of the trust, believed the trust would be able to make a significant bid for the boatyard itself, before the council is told whether it will get financial backing from the Government.

Mr Strong said: “Late next month, or in early October, we will make an announcement about what direction we will move in to achieve permanent ownership of the boatyard by the community.

“We are now poised to make a serious offer, which we believe the site administrators will have to deign to respond to.

“We have been doing a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes and we are pretty confident that we have found support, not only from financial institutions, but also from government institutions.

“The city council has sent out a serious message to the administrators about what could happen if they chose to hang on to the site.

“We welcome the fact that the council is sending out a message that it wants to acquire the site on the trust’s behalf, but we think we might be able to buy it first.”

The derelict boatyard is currently in the hands of PricewaterhouseCoopers, aftter Castlemore Securities, which owns Spring Residential, went into administration in February.

Mr Strong said the trust wanted to build a new community centre on the boatyard site, together with a museum and a repair dock for canal boats.

The recent redrawing of the flood map by the Environment Agency to include Jericho canalside earlier this month could be “overcome”, said Mr Strong.

In October, a planning inspector ruled Spring Residential's plan for 54 flats at the former Castle Mill Boatyard site should not go ahead.

The former boatyard site is thought to have been sold to Spring Residential for £4m by British Waterways.

Jericho resident Adrian Arbib, who campaigned against the flats development, said: “The boatyard site has been empty for too long and I would like to see the place come alive again.

“If there was some sort of facility for boats it would mitigate against any flooding risk.”

The campaign against the flats was supported by Oxford author Philip Pullman and Inspector Morse actor Kevin Whately.

Inspector Morse author Colin Dexter is also backing the buy-out plan led by the trust.