'New dawn' for Shrewsbury as major developments get go-ahead
Two huge developments in Shrewsbury have been given the green-light in what has been hailed as "the dawn of a new era" for the town.
Shropshire Council's cabinet has approved plans which will see construction on new university halls begin in the spring, while development of the third phase of Shrewsbury Business Park will start in the summer.
Michael Wood, the authority's cabinet member for corporate support, said: "Cabinet has agreed to bring forward two of Shropshire Council's principal sites for development in Shrewsbury.
"Work to develop student accommodation at the Tannery site in the town centre will now begin in spring 2017, and the development of the third and final phase of the Shrewsbury Business Park will start in summer 2017."
The announcement of work on the halls, which will be built at Barker Street, comes after the project was delayed earlier this year.
It was initially intended to be completed by September, in time for the latest intake of undergraduates.
The development of the business park will see the available floor space at the site increase from 250,000 square feet, to 350,000 square feet. The sites available are expected to be highly sought after when placed on the market.
Councillor Wood, and the council's leader, Malcolm Pate, said that both developments are key to plans to attract more business to the town, with firms already interested in plots at the business park.
Mr Wood said: "This marks the dawn of a new era: one in which the council plans to invest in and to develop strategic sites to attract new businesses, create new jobs, support education and training, boost the local economy and generate sustainable income streams for the council.
"Our 'invest to earn' approach underpins our strategy to become a more financially sustainable council, and allows us to take a lead role in the economic growth and prosperity of the county."
Councillor Pate said: "We have obviously got a great commitment to the university to provide accommodation as it grows. We started that off with Mardol House but we are now looking at other options to continue that in Shrewsbury.
"The university is key to our industrial strategy.
"If we are going to attract the investment into Shropshire we are going to have to be able to offer the skills base.
"We have already got people interested in taking on the sites at the business park. We have got to generate more business rates and income and that means attracting more businesses into Shropshire."
It is understood that the halls development could now include some retail on the ground floor, although a new planning agreement would also be required.
The first stage of work will require demolition of the existing building on site –previously described as an "eyesore".
Shrewsbury Business Park dates back to 2001, and work is still taking place on phase two.
The second phase has seen £1.5m invested in new infrastructure, an access point from Wenlock Road and a half-a-million Co-operative store.
So far 250,000 square foot of floor space has been created at the business park, overseen by Alaska Property Group, with around 1,200 jobs.
Another 100,000 square foot of floor space is in the pipeline.