Shropshire Council to consider buying Pride Hill, Riverside and Darwin shopping centres

Shropshire Council’s Cabinet has today agreed to recommend to full Council that it approves the purchase of Shrewsbury’s main shopping centres.

The council says the purchase would support the economic growth and regeneration of Shrewsbury town centre.

Shropshire Council has been in discussions with the owners and managers of the shopping centres for a number of years to encourage investment and redevelopment. The council says it is crucial to enhancing the visitor, retail and leisure experience offered in the Town Centre.

The discussion has focussed on the future development of the shopping centres and how they could be linked together to form a more attractive offer to shoppers.

In particular, the Riverside Shopping Centre comprises a well-located site close to the River Severn, but requires significant redevelopment.

In 2016, the owners made it clear that they were looking to sell the shopping centres, as opposed to entering into any partnership arrangement with Shropshire Council.

Cabinet received a confidential report on 12 July 2017. This report set out the opportunity for Shropshire Council to purchase the shopping centres. At this meeting Cabinet resolved “that the Director of Place and Enterprise in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Corporate Support be authorised to formally express an interest to the freeholder to acquire the shopping centres subject to contract”.

Following a competitive procurement process, Montagu Evans and Browne Jacobson were appointed in August 2017 to provide, respectively, specialist technical property and legal advice to Shropshire Council. Both firms are very experienced and have brought a diverse team of expert advisers.

Work began on the potential acquisition in September 2017.

Day-to-day management
The management of all aspects of over 113 tenant lets, the properties themselves and the marketing of the shopping centres is a significant challenge. Shropshire Council will ensure specialist property agents undertake this work as well as considering the future development of the sites.

Within the last two years, 15 local authorities have acquired shopping centre investments in their areas for a total of £570 million with a further £220 million under offer or in negotiation.

If full Council approval is given at its meeting on 14 December Shropshire Council aims to complete the purchase by 23 January 2018.