Shropshire Council finalised the purchase of the Charles Darwin and Pride Hill shopping centres and the leasehold of the Riverside Shopping Centre. The authority has also bought the leasehold of the Riverside Medical Practice.
The council say the multi million pound purchase is a 'once in a lifetime opportunity' which will bring much needed cash in to its coffers.
The shopping centres had been in the ownership of UK Commercial Property Trust Limited, which is advised by Standard Life Investments.
The purchase was approved at a meeting of the full council on December 14 and contracts were exchanged on December 21.
Councillor Peter Nutting, leader of Shropshire Council, said: “The investment in the shopping centres is very exciting and hugely important. It will provide us with the opportunity to shape the redevelopment of a large part of the town centre. In particular, the redevelopment of the Riverside Centre is desperately needed as the area is looking tired and run down. It offers huge opportunities for development.
“Over the coming months we want to carefully think through our next steps in terms of the wider development opportunities and how these align with the vision for the town as articulated within the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan. We’ll also be seeking people’s views before any decisions are made.
“The investment in the shopping centres will also enable us to get a better financial return on our money, providing the council with £2.7 million income in next year’s budget.”
Councillor Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s deputy leader and Cabinet member for corporate support, said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to enhance and improve the town centre and change Shrewsbury for the better.
“Whilst this is an investment in Shrewsbury’s shopping centres it’s an investment that will benefit the whole of Shropshire, so this really is great news for the whole county.”
Will Fulton, fund manager at Standard Life Investments, said: “The sale of these three centres is in line with our previously stated strategy of reducing our portfolio’s weighting towards retail.
"Furthermore the sale provides us with additional financial resources which we intend to recycle into other investment opportunities that fit with the company’s investment strategy. We have been discussing long term options for these centres with Shropshire Council for a while which ultimately led to negotiations around the council acquiring them and managing them going forward. We believe that this is a very satisfactory outcome for both parties and for the future of the centres.”
In the short-term, people will see no change to their experience of the centres whilst Shropshire Council considers future development opportunities.
A specialist property management company will be responsible for all aspects of over 113 tenant lets, the properties themselves and the marketing of the shopping centres – as has always been the case – as well as considering the future development of the sites.