Shropshire council seals £51m shopping centres deal

The Darwin Centre in Shrewsbury.

Shropshire council seals £51m shopping centres deal

A deal to purchase Shrewsbury’s three main shopping centres from UK Commercial Property Trust Limited for £51m has completed.

In December 2017, it was revealed that the council was in negotiations to take over the Charles Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside shopping centres.

Work on the potential acquisition began in September last year and the authority's full council approved the proposed sale before Christmas.

The assets provide about 428,400 sq ft of retail and leisure space in total.

UK Commercial Property Trust was advised in the sale by Standard Life Investments.

Will Fulton, fund manager at Standard Life Investments, said: “The sale of these three centres is in line with our previously stated strategy of reducing our portfolio’s weighting towards retail. 

“Furthermore the sale provides us with additional financial resources which we intend to recycle into other investment opportunities that fit with the company’s investment strategy.”

“We have been discussing long-term options for these centres with Shropshire Council for a while which ultimately led to negotiations around the council acquiring them and managing them going forward.

“We believe that this is a very satisfactory outcome for both parties and for the future of the centres.”

Councillor Peter Nutting, Leader of Shropshire Council, said: “The investment in the shopping centres is very exciting and hugely important.

“It will provide us with the opportunity to shape the redevelopment of a large part of the town centre.

“In particular, the redevelopment of the Riverside Centre is desperately needed as the area is looking tired and rundown. It offers huge opportunities for development.

“Over the coming months, we want to carefully think through our next steps in terms of the wider development opportunities and how these align with the vision for the town as articulated within the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan.

“We’ll also be seeking people’s views before any decisions are made.

“The investment in the shopping centres will also enable us to get a better financial return on our money, providing the council with £2.7 million income in next year’s budget.”

Councillor Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s deputy leader and Cabinet member for corporate support, added: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to enhance and improve the town centre and change Shrewsbury for the better.

“Whilst this is an investment in Shrewsbury’s shopping centres it’s an investment that will benefit the whole of Shropshire, so this really is great news for the whole county.”