Council confirms plan to move traders from Shrewsbury's Pride Hill Shopping Centre
A number of traders are being asked to leave Shrewsbury's Pride Hill Shopping Centre as Shropshire Council owners look to "repurpose" the building.
The council has confirmed it is asking a number of businesses to move from Pride Hill to a new unit in the Darwin Centre, which formerly housed QVC.
Some traders have reacted with disappointment and anger at the situation, and although no plans have been revealed for the Pride Hill Centre's future, it has been suggested that it is being considered as a possible location for a cinema.
Shropshire Council bought the centre as part of a £51m deal including the Darwin and Riverside centres in January 2018. Earlier this month it announced their value had plummeted to £17.5m.
The authority has admitted that the "current retail climate" is behind it reassessing "the best use for Pride Hill", and said it sees the Darwin Centre as the "primary retail destination in Shrewsbury".
Shaun Walton, from Walton Shoe Repairs, is one of the businesses to be told they need to move.
Mr Walton has been at the centre for 25 years and said he is only three years into a ten-year lease.
He said he had been delivered a letter from the council this morning asking him to leave.
He said: "I could not believe it really, I am happy here. I am only three years into a 10 year deal and that's it, you're out in October."
Mr Walton said he was concerned about the impact relocating would have on his business, and had reservations about moving to the former QVC store,which will be known as 'The Collective'.
He said: "There is a plan for us to go in to the mini market in QVC on the bottom of the Darwin Centre. I have been in this town for 25 years and nothing on the bottom of there has really lasted."
Mr Walton said that trying to make a success of a business that has been hit by lockdown was problematic, without added issues.
He said: "This is tough enough at this moment. They should leave us for seven months or so to try and get back to normal."
A statement from the council said: "Plans are now moving ahead to repurpose the Pride Hill Centre, which will create more flexible town centre space for the future.
"Steps have been taken and discussions are underway to relocate several businesses to the Darwin Centre. Over time this will minimise on-going operational costs in the former Pride Hill space and pave the way for a new future for the building, though no decision has yet been made about the future use of the centre.
- See the latest coronavirus stories from Shropshire, Mid Wales and beyond
- Coronavirus: Latest number of deaths and confirmed cases in Shropshire, Telford and Mid Wales
- Star Neighbours - how you can give and get help locally
"As part of this work we will soon be relocating a number of the Pride Hill Centre’s independent businesses to a new specially created trading space in the Darwin Centre called The Collective.
"Located in the former QVC unit, The Collective will become home to up to 10 independent stores who will benefit from the regular centre footfall and trading alongside established brands."
The council also said that it would be offering "favourable terms" to those businesses that relocate.
The statement added: "Individual negotiations are underway with occupiers to manage the process of relocation and to ensure that they are kept up-to-date. These discussions are continuing and we will ensure that we allow our tenants the time that they need for these negotiations.
"It is important that the Pride Hill Centre tenants are the first to know about our future plans and what it means for them, and that they hear it from us. This will continue to be the case.
"Shropshire Council is offering flexible and favourable terms to independent and national brands relocating to the Darwin Centre from the Pride Hill Centre."