Dismay as council abandons plans to convert Shrewsbury shopping centre into new HQ

The latest twist in the saga of Shrewsbury's council-owned shopping centres has been met with dismay from opposition councillors.

The Pride Hill Centre is currently closed while Shropshire Council considers future uses for the site.
The Pride Hill Centre is currently closed while Shropshire Council considers future uses for the site.

Shropshire Council this week confirmed it was abandoning a plan to build a new 'Shirehall' base for its staff in the former Pride Hill Shopping Centre in Shrewsbury.

Back in February the council had agreed to pursue the proposal, with ambitions to sell off its current Shirehall base at Abbey Foregate.

It has now been revealed that the council is looking for alternative uses for the former Pride Hill Centre – which it bought in a £51m deal, along with the Darwin Centre and the town's Riverside Centre back in 2018.

The alternative uses could include a hotel – on the top level fronting onto Pride Hill, with a car park, while new council offices could be built on the area of the Riverside Centre after it is demolished.

Councillor David Vasmer, leader of Shropshire Council's opposition Liberal Democrat group, said he was concerned the council was bouncing from one idea to the next for the site.

He said: "They seem to have no overall plan, no idea of what they are going to do. When they first came up with the idea of buying the centres we all said there is no point in buying retail space because retail is quite clearly in decline.

"But they went ahead because they said it would give them control over the development of the town and to shape the town but clearly they had no idea of what to do."

Councillor David Vasmer questioned the lack of a coherent plan for the site

Councillor Vasmer said he had thought there might have been a change of approach when the new administration came in after May's local elections.

He said: "I thought when the new administration came in they would want to review all the policies of the council but they seem to go blindly ahead and it is clearly unravelling."

Councillor Alan Mosley, leader of the council's Labour group, said rate-payers would be dismayed at the latest decision.

He said: "I think it is a condemnation of the work that has been done on this by the administration and it is an almighty waste of time, money and effort.

"All these things should have been taken into account prior to the purchase of the centres, and taken into account in all the feasibility studies and research that has been done since.

"I think it shows a lack of care of Shropshire Council resources and I am sure the rate payers will be concerned about the whole fiasco."

Councillor Alan Mosley said the latest plan had been an 'almighty waste of time, money, and effort'

Both councillor Mosley and Councillor Vasmer have also questioned the idea of using any of the site for car parking – something they say would go against the stated aims of the Big Town Plan – a scheme which is looking at the future development of the town.

Councillor Vasmer said: "As far as having a car park there is goes against everything we are talking about in the Big Town Plan. We are talking about making Shrewsbury pedestrian friendly, reducing the number of cars coming into the town centre."

Councillor Mosley said: "It builds a picture of confusion and if you think that with the reversal of the town centre traffic restrictions, the confusion over the road outside the station, it shows there does not seem to be any consistency of planning and instead just complete confusion on the part of the council.

"Major car parking should be outside the loop as was envisaged in the Big Town Plan and anything that continues to draw traffic into the town centre should be rightly scrutinised."

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News