£150m Shrewsbury shopping centre plan put on hold

Plans to create a £150 million giant shopping centre in the heart of Shrewsbury have been delayed for at least two years – and may never come to fruition, developers admitted today.

An artist’s impression of the planned £150m New Riverside development in Shrewsbury
An artist’s impression of the planned £150m New Riverside development in Shrewsbury

When the proposals for the New Riverside centre were announced, it was planned work would start this summer.

But Guy Shearer from Shearer Property Group, one of the firms behind the plans, said today the “best case scenario” would see construction start in early 2015.

And he added the economic climate means the scheme’s entire future is uncertain, with the project subject to ‘regular review’ by the board of directors of owners UK Commercial Property Trust.

“I can’t guarantee it is going to go ahead – nobody can.”

He said though that they remain committed to creating the centreand that it was ‘full steam ahead at the moment’ for the project.

Mr Shearer added: “As everyone knows, the current economic climate is very difficult and no more so than for Britain’s high streets.

“Whilst UKCPT have suffered considerable loss of income in the existing schemes from retailers closing down, going into administration or deciding not to renew leases, they continue to support and progress the New Riverside scheme, but naturally this is subject to regular review by their board of directors.

“We continue to work closely with Shropshire Council to drive the project forward in these challenging times.”

Concerns about the progress of the scheme have been raised by Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski, who met with the developers last week.

He said he has offered the developers his assistance in helping the scheme come to fruition as soon as possible, in terms of dealing with getting the necessary consent from Government to allow the compulsory purchase order to be confirmed and the scheme to progress.

“It is very important this project goes ahead and I have offered them every assistance,” he said. “My door is open but I’m disappointed and concerned about the delays.”

He said that he has also provided developers with a list of shops he has recently contacted to establish whether they would be interested in opening a store in Shrewsbury. When the plans were originally announced in 2011, it was hoped that work on the scheme to build one giant interlined mall in the heart of Shrewsbury could start this summer, with the centre being ready in time for autumn 2015.

However, it is now unlikely to be completed until mid-2017 at the earliest.

If the scheme goes ahead, the Riverside Shopping Centre would be demolished and rebuilt with links created to the two other existing centres, the Darwin and Pride Hill complexes. Councillor Mal Price, cabinet member for the built environment for Shropshire Council, said the authority is still helping the scheme to progress.

“Shropshire Council, Ignis Asset Management and Shearer Property Group are continuing to work closely together on UK Commercial Property Trust’s (UKCPT) New Riverside development,” he said.

“The council is assisting UKCPT in assembling the land and property interests that they need to enable the scheme to proceed”

Comments for: "£150m Shrewsbury shopping centre plan put on hold"

Toby Lloyd

Not only the other day I sent an email to the people involved with the project expressing my excitement. This news has come as not only come as a let down to Shrewsbury but also as an embarrassment. 'Welcome to Standingstillsbury!'

Rob, Telford

It would appear that you should not only have calmed down a bit after the excitement of sending your initial email - then you would not have found the news come as not only come as a let down or the embarrassment only...

WonderWoman

This doesn't surprise me at all. Our shopping centres are now filling up with cheap shops that no one wants to buy from apart from the much younger generation, One good shop that was a good idea to have put in was H&M... we could have a Zara where JJB was... or any other nice stores. There are so many empty too, we could make our town looking so much more sophisticated even though Shrewsbury is a place of History and charm, but come on they can do much better than this.

Robin Hood

No surprises there - as predicted, the cheaper town centre shops have been driven out of Riverside with nothing to fill their place.

Fingers crossed our new Town Council will be less blinkered and will not go all out for the fantasy "posh tourist destination of the year" at the expense of everything else.

I hope that they will, instead, work towards a town centre that caters for people that live here regardless of class/disposable income and also for visitors rich and poor.

Shrewsbury Lady

Best news I've heard in ages, lets hope it never happens it would ruin our beautiful town, maiking like every other over commercialised town in the country - full of empty shops and expensive cafes.

doubter

Umm its already full of empty shops.

As for Danny the bandwagon jumper, and his compulsary purchases i hope that should they happen the people involved get full market value ! And is he still lying in the road block that other development the incinerator? or has he now jumped off that bandwagon?

Nicola

So my favourite fruit and veg shop has moved out of the Riverside for no reason then!

David Jones

Exactly as I predicted.

Why would you build so much new town centre retail space when exactly that sort of real estate is in low demand??

This project will never happen. Eventually the land will be used for a more mixed use scheme with housing and offices.

Roger

I think that the only way this project will ever happen is to get more jobs into the Town.

For me the commercial redevolpement of Howards Bank is more important. We need to extend the town centre outside the loop of the river and provide car parking with access to the Town Center without entering the log jam of the Northern entance and Smithfield Road. I was amazed to hear that the car park off Riverside had been agreed. Surely this will just put more cars into an unsustainable traffic jam. Build the car park on Howards Bank and improve the Dana is far better and will take traffic out of the town whilst allowing people in.

John Of Shrewsbury

What a blow this is for Shrewsbury ! The redevelopment is needed to attract new names to the town , the centres as they are will not in the condition they are in

Lee

Telfords new development is coming on nicely, Shrewsbury folk should come have a look :-)

John Of Shrewsbury

Is that the new Asda delevopment ? That will leave a big empty superstore in Telford shopping centre ? With the rest of the empty units that are building up there ? As well as a number of retailers wanting to leave ? I know of 5 main retailers marketing there units to lease so they can leave !

ham

I don't think he's talking about Asda...

John Of Shrewsbury

I know just being sarcastic ! It's not all rosey in Telford ! If I recall the shopping centre owners tried to stop this development so they would end up with such a vast empty space

twisting my melon

ASDA isn't moving out of the Town Centre , just to a different part of it ..

twiggo

Shrewsbury could indeed learn from Telford - a town not hell-bent on excluding ordinary people and which continues to provides a mixed and vibrant town centre despite the current economic climate. The Tories have mismanaged appallingly in Shrewsbury and thank goodness they were at least voted out at the town council elections. A shame it wasn't Shropshire Council too.

I used to always shop/hang out in town (Shrewsbury) and only went to Telford as a last resort but increasingly I hop on the train to Telford. It's great for families and there is a range of shops for all price ranges. Unlike Shrewsbury which hemorrhages the useful, day-to-day stuff and fills up with gift shops and cafes.

It's not a coincidence that Telford has had a Labour council for many years (except for a very brief Tory stint) which has prioritised the needs of the majority of ordinary people rather than the few at the top and rich tourists.

Matthew

Do tell us exactly which shops in Telford cater for the 'ordinary people'?

Perhaps its the Debenhams or Zara or the the recently expanded House of Fraser? Or maybe you were thinking of tReds, Hotel Chocolat or the Bear Factory? Add to that the fact that ASDA are leaving the centre and your argument is kind of running out of steam.

If anything the lower levels of the Shrewsbury Centres have Poundland, Home Bargains, British Heart Foundation, Peacocks and Shoe Zone...

... Hardly the 'posh' and non day-to-day stuff of which you speak of.

Twiggo

Telford Town Centre has a range of shops and you can get reasonably priced stuff and basics if you so wish. Asda's not leaving, it's moving to the old Civic Offices site which is still in the town centre.

There's Iceland, BHS, Primark to name a few. Yes, there's higher end goods too - but you need that mix to attract all kinds of shoppers, not just the people who can afford to go to Marks and Spencers for their fruit and veg which is the way Shrewsbury seems to be going.

John Of Shrewsbury

I know asda is building a new store but it is leaving the shopping centre that was the point I was making !

Telford shopper, Shrewsbury resident

Oh dear people are so surprised that once again the new centre won't happen and all I can hear are the middle classes saying it'll spoil our beautiful town. the answer is no it wont! Its a revamp for the tired looking existing retail units in all the shopping malls.

Shrewsbury needs to start concentrating on having a vast range of shops aimed at the ordinary folk, not everyone can afford to shop at the independent retailer or wishes too, a lot of Shrewsbury residents seem to forget that the big retailers also employ local people who desperately need jobs.

is it any wonder some of us disappear to Telford for a proper shopping trip and I for one can't wait for the new development!

Shrewsbury Mum

"Councillor Mal Price, cabinet member for the built environment for Shropshire Council, said the authority is still helping the scheme to progress."

And what a shambolic job they're making of it. Since the new shopping centre plans were announced retailers have been abandoning ship in their droves and all 3 centres are now like a ghost town. Perhaps councillors should accept that this just isn't going to happen for the forseeable future and instead of chasing their vanity project should concentrate on attracting back the kind of shops we've lost- generally the kind of affordable ones like Covent Garden fruit and veg shop, Co-op, TK Maxx etc that many of us who live here relied on. At the moment there are more empty shops with 'Flourish in Shrewsbury' posters over the windows than actual shops, it's ridiculous.

The original Roger

A sensible solution. Why build all these additional facilities when many of our towns' shops lie empty?. Take a look around The Pride Hill and Darwin shopping arcades and see how many shops are vacant. Reduce the rents and business rates and give the people of Shrewsbury and Shropshire a shopping centre to be proud of.

I implore the councillors of this town to visit Chester any day of the week and see how the big nationals trade side by side with small independent traders, very few vacant premises there and a joy to go shopping in.

Shrewsbury Town Centre continues to die. Do something about it. Now!!

Driver

Please do not worry about it. Shropshire Council has it all in hand. They are just about to pass planning permission for a third supermarket in Meole.

So much for our MPs efforts to bring trade to the town ?

daveyboy

I have just been into Shrewsbury and was surprised at the number of empty shops.The Riverside and Pridehill Centre look so empty it reminded me of the saying "Would the last one out please turn the lights out".If they are trying to lure tourists to the town they will haave to do better than this

Robin Hood

In their attempts to attract tourists, Tory Shropshire Council is forgetting about everybody else. It's no surprise that Shrewsbury town centre is dying.

The ordinary people who live here and spend money day in, day out are being driven out of town and it is those very people who keep basic levels of trade going - tourism provides the icing on the cake but without the cake, there is no point having the icing!

Parktronic

This really isn’t a surprise, as commercially the scheme doesn’t make sense. At a time when online shopping is killing traditional low order retail, no investment or pension fund will buy the scheme from the developer when it has been finished. The developer will feel wary about proceeding as a consequence, and will probably encounter difficulties getting funding for the project, as the financial institutions that he approaches will be aware of what’s going on in the marketplace and not want to expose themselves.

20% of retail space in Birmingham’s primary and secondary central business district is void. This is a sign of the times. There’s notable interest from pension funds to acquire distribution centres at the moment.

Far better to do something on a much smaller scale and focus on the bespoke / high order end. This would be more likely to work out in the longer term as well, and provide more security of employment for those concerned.

Roger (a different one)

Let's face it, are the developers building out of concern for Shrewsbury? They just want income from their investment, so high rents will be the order of the day, and that's simply not sustainable in the present retail doldrums - so yet more empty shops. Agree with reducing rents on present capacity to attract more retailers in.

mark

Not surprised at all.The developers have come to the same conclusion as most in this town that the town centre is dead and nothing being done to bring trade in. Now surely the council idiots have to look at this and say all the ridiculous parking charges weekday and weekend are over the top and not only driving residents,shoppers, tourists away but now investors, but instead of stupid new shopping centres, help fill what is empty in the town now and spruce up the centres we already have.

But what am i thinking, the council help the town shops, they've just allowing planning for another bloody super market on the edge of town........GOOD THINKING THAT!!!!!!

Dan

so you wait for shops to start moving out of riverside getting ready for this to happen, then they postphone it... what a joke council

Pimms

I believe the scheme will progress regardless. The alternative is to sell without comparable yield to sustain it. The scheme was obtained at “below market value” this enabled the purchaser to keep funds in reserve for development. What you are seeing is exactly what was always going to happen. You would need to obtain vacant possession on any existing units to enable flexibility and that’s what is happening. It may be put back (I cannot comment on that) but in my opinion the asset “can only be developed” it will change the dynamic as far as Shrewsbury is concerned but will drive investment in the long term. Keep the faith it will look great!

grumpo

One week ago our MP meets the developers and offers his assistance and a week later the development is put on hold. He even provided them with a list of shops.

Wow. I bet they never thought of checking what shops might be interested.

Gary ,,,, Shrewsbury

more empty shops then ,,,, they try anything except free parking,, oneday they get it right

What part of free parking don't they understand !

Cath Shuttlewood

I think this is a real shame and one that endangers the future of our lovely town.

I consider myself to be middle class and don't believe that the redevelopment of the current shopping centres would impact negatively on the independent traders, many of which I love and frequent. Instead, they'd breath new life in to the more commercial side of our shopping offering and make Shrewsbury more attractive as a destination. Even if the redevelopment doesn't go ahead then something needs to be done as currently the centres are dying on their feet.

I feel sure that if the plans went ahead, that in itself would attract the necessary retailers in to the town.....

Highly relieved

I'm glad this project has ground to a standstill. Hopefully the delay will be long enough for sense to prevail and Shrewsbury to be saved from yet another badly planned, badly designed bland box that is out of keeping with the rest of the town. As I understand it from the plans the new centre would connect to the existing Darwin and Pride Hill centres, so presumably they would have to be retained for the whole structure to work. In other words it won't replace the failing centres we are already lumbered with, but instead will mean they have to be kept and even more space devoted to a style of retail which is already being left high and dry by internet retailers and out of town sites. Build a car park, or a museum of beards, or a zoo, or a huge complex of mosques, synagogues, gurdwaras and temples to enrage the racists, just don't build another redundant shopping centre..

Mr Glad I'm not Normal

Glad it's been put on hold, sad for the Riverside retailers who've been forced out though...

As for the idiotic comments above such as "Make Shrewsbury more like Telford..."... why would our quaint, historic town want to be more like a faceless, characterless modern town centre with all the charm and attraction of a doctor's waiting room?

Shrewsbury has been ruined by capitalist parking, ridiculous lease rates and almost impenetrable road systems for too long. Spend the money on getting the county's 'capital' back to it's former glory.

There are some great shops, lovely people, and lots of history in the centre.

We don't need another monolithic concrete monster to attract shoppers... and certainly don't need to emulate new, modern, commercial-based town centres.

I've travelled this country enough, and worked within the marketing industry for many years—especially with shopping centres—to understand that there's no such thing as a 'good for everyone' centre.

Let the fast-food junky, all-under-one-roof generation keep their ubiquitous hamster cage shopping centres, and bring back the traditional high street in towns like Shrewsbury.

Jean Baker

Wouldn't this be glorious in a perfect world!

Unfortunately, since our weather patterns have changed, this out in all weathers' shopping is an endurance test to say the least!

I have shopped in Shrewsbury since the '60s and things have changed.

Mostly the weather!!!

And along with this the intro of shopping centres.

So the hamster cage shopping centre is just practical admitted tedious,

and stuffy, but very necessary.

Other towns have managed to keep their individual charm with covered shopping, maybe Shrewsbury could too?

A High Street that the shopper didn't have to freeze in, or get soaked ,and then get back to the car to fork out best part of £10 for this torture!

nothings free

It will go ahead may be a year or so late but it will happen .

It will bring construction jobs and then it will bring retail jobs and all the other business will benefit from all of it from electricians alarm companies cleaners , security staff and so on .

The shops will come as long as the floor space is there and it can accomodate them and the rents/rates are set at a decent level ,what is wrong with cafes?? over pirced only if you cant afford it , many can .

A recent visit to cardiff okay a city but three -four large shopping centers, loads of small shoppping arcades full of independent traders all busy in the center and making money and provideing jobs in fact id say the out or city stores were the quiet ones .

Sense will prevail!

Good can we have our veg and supermarket back please so that I don't have to get the car out to get my food shopping. I used to enjoy my little walk into town to get the shopping and have a chat with whoever I would meet on route.. Can't see me bothering about visiting a Debenhams anyway!

charlie

This is a carbon copy of the 2003 Summer Row scheme in Wolverhampton, slightly smaller, that was abandoned in 2011! Support the traders that are still here, or soon they with also be gone! Lately some shop rents and parking charges have been reduced in Wolverhampton, it could be done here.