Council officially abandons Pride Hill headquarters plan

Plans to build a new council base in a shopping centre have been officially abandoned after councillors voted in secret to drop them.

Pride Hill shopping centre closed this year
Pride Hill shopping centre closed this year

Shropshire Council voted on Thursday to scrap a proposal from February this year that would have seen the former Pride Hill Shopping Centre in Shrewsbury become its base.

Under the plan it would also have closed and potentially sold its current home at Abbey Foregate in the town.

The latest decision was taken in closed session at the full meeting of Shropshire Council – with a Lib Dem bid to have the matter discussed in public defeated.

The authority confirmed the decision after the vote and said the debate was held in secret because of "the need to work through some commercially sensitive issues".

The council is understood to have paid to carry out a review of the suitability of the Pride Hill site as a new council base – with concerns that it would not provide a "high quality, sustainable or cost-effective office environment" leading to the plan being dropped.

It will now pay for a feasibility study to look at what can be done with the empty Pride Hill centre, and the area of the Riverside Shopping Centre and Raven Meadows – with potential ambitions to build a new council base on the site of the Riverside Centre.

The authority has declined to comment on how much it will spend on the new study, with a spokesman saying: "We have identified an amount of money to move the project to a full business case and these costs are in line with industry practice.”

The council owns the Pride Hill Centre, the Darwin Centre, and the Riverside, which it bought in a £51m deal in 2018. A valuation earlier this year said the centres were now worth £12.3m.

A statement from the council said that it expects proposals for what will happen with the site next year.

A spokesman said: "The next step in the process is to suspend further development activities for the retention and repurposing of Pride Hill and commission detailed feasibility work to create the business case for the collective redevelopment of Pride Hill and Raven Meadows surface car park within the context of the Smithfield Riverside Strategic Development framework currently underway. The feasibility work is expected to complete in Spring 2022."

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