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Revealed: Shropshire Council considered moving its HQ to Shrewsbury's Riverside Shopping Centre

By Lucy Todman | Shrewsbury | Politics | Published:

Shropshire Council considered moving its HQ to the Riverside in Shrewsbury but decided against the idea despite identifying that it could create 'a vibrant, mixed use destination'.

Shrewsbury's Riverside Shopping Centre

Instead the authority has decided that the best option is to remain at its Shirehall site on Abbey Foregate.

Councillors are set to agree to the next phase in the scheme, which will lead to the £24.1 million refurbishment of the building, when they meet on Thursday.

In a report to members of the council, Mark Barrow, the authority's director of place, said that a report was commissioned to evaluate the Shirehall Redevelopment Project against the potential of other new build options in Shrewsbury town centre.

He said: "Its purpose was to assess the viability of the project, in the context of Shropshire Council’s wider estate, and ask whether the Shirehall refurbishment proposal is the most sustainable and effective solution.

The Riverside Shopping Centre

"The report considered three options: to lift and drop the Shirehall based workforce into the Riverside site; to relocate to the town centre the customer-facing operations, which translated into a requirement to accommodate 175 staff.

"Shirehall would continue to provide accommodation for a reduced workforce, along with public sector partners, or to continue with the Shirehall development project and consider alternative models and uses for the Riverside development.

MORE: £24 million Shirehall refurbishment set to take a step forward

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"The outcome of the appraisal demonstrates that the Shirehall project can be delivered, based on current financial estimates, at no cost to the public purse. Investment in the Riverside as an alternative is necessarily a longer term and more strategic option with its own risks and opportunities.

Shirehall in Shrewsbury

"The opportunity to create a vibrant mixed use destination, linked to the town centre, could well result in significant, yet unquantifiable, benefits for the town centre and the council is likely to benefit financially from an uplift in the return on its investment in the shopping centres.

"We will be spreading our investment over two major projects, rather than consolidating it into one asset and this will restrict investment in both assets in the future."

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The council bought the Riverside, Darwin and Pride Hill shopping centres in a multi million pound deal at the start of the year.

Earlier this week it was reported that the demolition of the Riverside could get underway within two years.

It has been suggested that it could make way for new workspaces and food and drink venues, which could be set around a public promenade.

Lucy Todman

By Lucy Todman
@shroptod

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star and Shrewsbury Chronicle based in Shrewsbury.

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