Value of council owned Shrewsbury shopping centres halves in a year

The value of Shrewsbury Shopping Centres, bought by Shropshire Council in January 2018, has halved in a year.

The Darwin Shopping Centre in Shrewsbury
The Darwin Shopping Centre in Shrewsbury

The figure has been announced today following the publication of Shropshire Council’s accounts for the year 2019/20. The latest value is £17,500,000, compared with £40,775,000 in March 2019.

Shropshire Council says the likely downturn in retail value was understood at the outset and played a part in the council’s decision to purchase the centres, in order to have full control and mitigate any delays in responding to market conditions and ensuring the planned transformation of the centres.

Regeneration of Shrewsbury town centre

Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for assets, economic growth and regeneration, said:

“Having sought professional advice before and after the acquisition, Shropshire Council purchased the three shopping centres – Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside – in January 2018 with the primary purpose of supporting the economic growth and regeneration of Shrewsbury town centre. This was an investment that was much-needed and will benefit not just Shrewsbury, but the whole county.

“We were aware of the possible downturn in the fortunes of the high street – an issue compounded by COVID-19 – but it’s for exactly that reason that the purchase was made – so that we could manage and mitigate any downturn, whilst enabling fresh development in the town. We also anticipated that the value of the centres could fall in the short-term. It’s therefore short-sighted to focus on the current value of the centres.

“The development of the Shrewsbury shopping centres will facilitate the wider transformation of Shrewsbury as part of the Big Town Plan. Each phase of the development will have financial challenges, but the goal remains the same, to deliver a vibrant, sustainable, and commercially successful town centre.”

Shropshire Council purchased the three shopping centres in Shrewsbury in 2018 at a total cost of £51 million pounds.

The Council has already started its refurbishment of the centres as part of its long-term ambitions, with progress made refurbishing the Darwin Centre middle level and customer welfare facilities, comprising of new toilets and washroom facilities including family room, Changing Places facility, freshwater fountain and seating. The work is set to be completed in early autumn.

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