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Morrisons: 'We still have plans for Oswestry Smithfield site'

By Aimee Jones | Oswestry | News | Published:

Morrisons says it remains committed to developing a derelict site in Oswestry that was once part of a planned £45 million leisure and shopping complex.

More than two years after the plans for the complex were shelved, Morrisons has insisted it is still working to develop the Smithfield site on Shrewsbury Road, and is looking for a development partner to work on delivering a plan for the land.

The site was originally earmarked for a five-screen cinema, a Morrisons supermarket, as well as Frankie and Benny's and McDonald's restaurants, but the plans fell through when Cineworld pulled out in 2015.

In a letter to Oswestry Town Council, Morrisons, which leases the land, said: "We remain committed to delivering a development at the Smithfield site and continue to explore the options available to us for its use.

"Unfortunately this can be a lengthy process but want to reassure you that work continues behind the scenes to bring this site into use.

"In this regard I can confirm that we are working towards the appointment of a development partner to promote and deliver a viable redevelopment of the site."

The company also said it will send a maintenance team to Oswestry to tidy up the site after Councillor Paul Milner described the firm as a "disgrace" for leaving the land to become overgrown.

Mayor of Oswestry, Councillor Vince Hunt, said the response from Morrisons was the first communication they had received in months.

"I asked the town clerk to find out what was going on with the site because there were a number of concerns from members of the public who said it looked scruffy," he said.

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"We wrote to the area manager but had no reply so we wrote to the chief executive who replied fairly quickly.

"It's taken us a while to get the wheels in motion but they have said they're working with a professional company to have a look out how they can develop the site. Really, we've just got to wait a bit more now."

However, Councillor Hunt believes it is unlikely that the original plan for a leisure and shopping complex is revived.

He said: "We can chip away and say what we think should be done with it but it's down to Morrisons as they have the land for the next 110 years.

"But whatever plans they come forward with, the town council will have the opportunity to comment and it will probably go to Shropshire Council planning committee for determination.

"My hope is that they pull their finger out now and something happens sooner rather than later."

Aimee Jones

By Aimee Jones
@aimeejones_star

News reporter based at the Shropshire Star's Oswestry office

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