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.
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”