Shrewsbury Riverside centre partial demolition application submitted to kick start redevelopment
Plans for demolition work at Shrewsbury's Riverside have been submitted – in the first step towards ambitious plans for "an even greater county town".
The Shropshire Council planning application – which has been submitted to its own planning department – lists three structures to be demolished on the site.
The application is one of the first steps towards the council's overall plans for a huge re-development scheme, which would re-shape the entire area in the town's biggest construction project in years.
The planning application is requesting permission to demolish the former police station, which was connected to the Riverside Shopping Centre, the exterior canopy of the centre, and a neighbouring unit.
Shropshire Council, which was given £18.7m of Levelling Up funding from the Government for the project, said the demolition would allow "essential ground investigation works" needed to "shape future stages of development".
The ultimate plans for the site would see the demolition of the Riverside Centre, as well as the nearby Raven Meadows multi-storey car park, bus station and Pride Hill Shopping Centre.
In their place will be a new leisure site, with intentions for it to host a cinema, a new multi-agency base or ‘Shirehall’, a ‘transport hub’, up to two hotels, offices and up to 270 homes.
A main feature of the ambitions is also improving the public space, providing a destination for people to visit.
In November 2022, regeneration specialists RivingtonHark were appointed by Shropshire Council to lead on the project.
Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for growth, regeneration, and housing, said it was "exciting times" as they look to make progress on the project.
He said: “Local people will know and understand this scheme has been in the pipeline for many years; and now, following backing from the Government, we can majorly accelerate the redevelopment of Smithfield Riverside, to bring forward a future Shrewsbury by 2025.
“Ultimately this application, if approved, will enable us to undertake further investigations of the site, and the council has been working closely with current tenants of the shopping centre and stakeholders within the community to ensure the programme progresses at the speed it needs to, whilst being mindful that the town centre still needs to function throughout the process.
“Smithfield Riverside is an agreed priority of the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan partnership, and our ambitions to create a development for local people and visitors to enjoy.
“These are exciting times for Shrewsbury, and Shropshire as a county.”
Councillor Lezley Picton, the leader of Shropshire Council, said: “The successful Levelling Up Fund bid has been a game-changer for this scheme, and it will really kick start the programme to make Shrewsbury an even greater county town.
“One of our priorities as the local council is to create a healthy economy for Shropshire, and this scheme will bring benefits that don’t just help Shrewsbury town centre and its surrounding neighbourhoods, but will also have positive ripple effects for the entire county and for those wanting to visit us in Shropshire.
“This application is one of the initial stages of the scheme, and we know that the local community will rightfully want to know what implications the planning application will have upon their day-to-day lives.
“We want them to feel assured we will work with them accordingly as the scheme progresses.”
Plans to redevelop the Riverside area of the town have been under discussion for a number of years.
A proposal for the creation of ‘mega-mall’ linking all three of the town’s then shopping centres – Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside – were given planning permission back in 2012.
The firm behind the plans, UK CPT, even had Debenhams lined up as an anchor tenant for the 225,000 sq ft project.
The global financial crash forced a rethink, and with the plans lying dormant Shropshire Council took destiny into its own hands, buying the three shopping centres in a £51 million deal in January 2018.
The purchase has been used as a recurring stick to beat the council’s administration with, as the centres’ value plummeted to just over £12m last year.
A decision on the application will be taken by planning officers at a later date.