Pride Hill centre transformation to cost Shropshire Council £11 million
Shropshire Council faces forking out £11 million towards the transformation of one of Shrewsbury’s shopping centres into a "leisure anchor" and cultural and civic hub.
The Pride Hill Centre, which the council bought along with the Darwin and Riverside centres in 2018, is set to undergo a £16m project to repurpose the building after it was revealed that traders were being asked to move out of their stores.
The project has been awarded a £5 million grant from the Government’s £900 million getting building fund (GBF), aimed at boosting the construction of new homes and infrastructure and creating jobs as part of the country’s economic recovery from coronavirus.
But it has now been revealed that the scheme will cost an estimated £16m – and the council will have to plug any shortfall unless further grant funding is sought.
A report by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), published ahead of a council scrutiny meeting next week, says: “Over £5 million GBF was awarded to the Pride Hill remodelling project.
“The funding contributes to the overall project cost of £16 million for the repurposing of the Pride Hill shopping centre to secure a vibrant and sustainable future which contributes to Shrewsbury as a quality destination for residents and visitors.
“Shropshire Council is securing a leisure anchor use for the building with complementary cultural and civic uses – the project will take forward enabling works, including securing vacant possession and partial stripping out of the centre.”
Shropshire Council said it was hoping to secure additional funding towards the project.
A council spokesman said: “We can confirm that Shropshire Council has been awarded £5 million as part of the Government’s £900m Getting Building Fund, which will contribute towards the overall project cost for the repurposing of the Pride Hill Centre.
“The remaining sum will be funded by Shropshire Council, though the council continues to look at all grant funding options that are available to help deliver key projects.”
The value of the three shopping centres bought by the council in 2018 for £51m has plummeted to just £17.5m in two years.
Alongside the transformation of the Pride Hill Centre, the council is undergoing a multi-million pound refurbishment of the Darwin Centre with a vision to turn it into the “primary retail destination in Shrewsbury”, and has plans to demolish the Riverside Centre as part of the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan.
Retailers currently based in Pride Hill are being encouraged to take up leases on vacant units in the Darwin Centre, with independent traders being housed in a new space on the bottom floor called The Collective.
Council leader Peter Nutting has previously shared ambitions to build a glass-roofed restaurant at the top of the Pride Hill centre with panoramic views over the town.
It was also suggested at a full council meeting in July that one of the shopping centres could be used to house council services as part of the authority’s plans to vacate Shirehall by 2023 and create a new ‘civic centre’ in Shrewsbury town centre.
The Marches LEP report will be discussed at a meeting of the council’s performance management scrutiny committee on Wednesday, September 16.