Shropshire Star

Shrewsbury Riverside Shopping Centre demolition plan set for decision next week

Plans for the multi-million pound demolition of a shopping centre and the creation of a new public park are set to be decided by councillors next week, it has been confirmed.


Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276

Planning officials at Shropshire Council say that the proposals go against their own current local plan, but there are good grounds for giving it the go-ahead.

They have recommended granting permission for the demolition of Shrewsbury's Riverside Shopping Centre, fronting Pride Hill, and the creation of a park, event space and amphitheatre, with accessible ramp, lift and staircase.

The application will be considered by the council's Northern Planning Committee on Tuesday, March 5.

Reaction from the public to the plans have been limited and mixed with five comments received by the council, three objecting and one member of the public in support.

Objector Mr Shaun Wilson wants the council to build big multi-storey car parks

He said: "My aim here is to highlight the need for multiple, vast car-parking facilities strategically placed around your master plan to avoid bottlenecking at a singular parking facility. Thus creating you decent revenue. A little pocket park will cost you money moving forward. My proposed car parks would make you money.

"Shrewsbury's problem is it only has one multi-storey car park, and Frankwell, one big surface car park. It needs to be at least 10 decks high, it's already a car park, so what's the issue?"

But supporter Michael Dinneen of Shrewsbury Civic Society says the group considers that the proposed Roushill Park is an "imaginative and practical response to the related issues of a regularly flooded site and the need to provide better pedestrian access".

Although the society wants more done to highlight and protect the remains of the 17th century Civil War town wall which are "believed to survive substantially intact under and adjacent to the former Riverside Medical Practice building".

Council officials have put together an 82-page report which says the plan "does not comply" with the local plan, which has allocated the site for "retail-led development".

"Subsequently, the application has been advertised as a departure from the Local Plan. However, it is considered that material considerations exist which indicate that the plan should not be followed in this instance."

Officers point out that the council's new local plan "has deleted the retail allocation at Smithfield Riverside and removed the site from the town’s Primary Shopping Area on the planning policy map" and this adds weight to breaking the council's current policy, which has not yet been updated.

Planners don't think too highly of the area as a whole.

The Riverside Shopping Centre in Shrewsbury has now closed for redevelopment..

The report reads: "The Riverside Shopping Centre, medical centre and police station structures are not considered worthy of retention due to their harmful contribution to the visual character of the immediate area.

"The existing buildings present blank facades, low quality materials, limited landscaping within the open spaces while there is poor connectivity through the site and to the wider town."

In contrast they say they think "the application would by contrast provide a high-quality public realm connection between the town and river".

They added: "Improved pedestrian accessibility and appropriate development of open space in a multi-functional approach would enhance the townscape."

Approval of the planning application would mean that the Riverside Shopping Centre could be demolished by the late summer or early autumn, with work on Roushill Park, with a new avenue of trees and play areas, started in November and finished by the early summer of 2025.

Also in outline plans are three building plots located between Smithfield Road, Raven Meadows and the proposed Roushill Park, earmarked for hotel, office and residential space.

At a briefing meeting last month Councillor Ian Nellins, the lead councillor for the proposals and says that most of the money is expected to come from capital budgets, which is a different pot of money than the revenue budget where the council faces having to save millions.

The council has been given just under £19 million from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, which it has to spend by the middle of 2025. This has given extra impetus to pull out all the stops and make progress, he explained.

“The capital side of the budget, which comes from the Government, will wash its face,” said Councillor Nellins, deputy leader of the council. “There is a constant pressure on our revenue budget and we will capitalise it as much as possible but investors are already coming to us and the council already owns the real estate.”

The council will be preparing a full business case for it all later in the year but its officers are confident that the plans will provide a boost to tourism and leisure spend.

Consultation materials will be on public display at Shropshire Local up to March 5. You can also access them at the following Shropshire Council libraries: Bayston Hill, Bridgnorth, Church Stretton, Gobowen, Library at the Lantern, Ludlow, Market Drayton, Much Wenlock, Oswestry, Pontesbury, Shrewsbury and Wem.