Tag: Shrewsbury town centre redevelopment

Big Bang Shrewsbury redevelopment plans are too risky – the council should move to the Guildhall

It is the stuff of dreams. It is also the stuff of nightmares. A radical redevelopment of Shrewsbury town centre between Pride Hill and the River Severn is expected to cost at least £77 million. Most of this money could come from loans expected to cost council taxpayers around £4m a year. The scheme will involve the sale of Shirehall and a construction of a new civic centre on Raven Meadows in a building that will cost more than £37m. Shropshire Council is being too ambitious. It has a poor track record having purchased three shopping centres which have since plummeted in value from £51m to £12m in just three years. It is now desperate to do something with the closed Pride Hill Centre, the failed Riverside Centre and the crumbling Raven Meadows car park. There are less risky approaches to the one the council is taking. The council and key staff could relocate to the Guildhall. The University of Chester could relocate into an entertainment, leisure and education complex on Pride Hill and Riverside.

New £77m plans for Shrewsbury Riverside will starve public investment for the rest of county

Next Wednesday, Shropshire Council’s cabinet will discuss plans for redeveloping the riverside area of Shrewsbury on Smithfield Road. This follows a public consultation a year ago, which highlighted the need to prioritise pedestrian and cycling access and to tackle climate change. The proposals from Shropshire Council involve spending £77m building 270 homes, a multi-agency hub and offices with 500 spaces for workers, the Pride Hill Leisure Centre (cinema etc.), offices, a hotel and a Transport Hub – a multistorey car park with 400 spaces plus bike racks to you and me. I wonder how many of spaces will be reserved for cabinet members and council directors as they are currently at Shirehall? Smithfield Road will be closed and become a green park alongside the River Severn. Traffic will be diverted along Raven Meadows, which the public documents call New Smithfield Road. The Riverside Centre and the Pride Hill Shopping Centre will be demolished. The council, which is rapidly running out of money, will have to raise the £77 million it needs for this scheme through loans. That could cost council tax payers more than £4 million in interest payments. And, it goes without saying the council’s limited funds are going…

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Lib Dem Leader attacks secret debate on Shrewsbury’s shopping centres

A call to oppose the exclusion of the press and public before Shropshire Council debates the future of Shrewsbury’s Shopping Centres next Thursday has been made by the Leader of Shropshire Council’s Liberal Democrat Group, Councillor David Vasmer (Underdale). “It’s a disgrace,” commented Cllr Vasmer. “£51 million was spent by Shirehall’s Tories on buying Shrewsbury’s shopping centres and now they are worth just over £12m – that’s a loss of nearly £39m. Just think of the improvements that could have been made, not just in Shrewsbury, but throughout Shropshire with that sort of money.” “Now adding insult to injury, the latest plans for the shopping centres will be debated in private at Shropshire’s Council Meeting next Thursday. Plans that were going to be debated in open session have now been circulated privately to councillors who will vote on a motion to exclude the press and public before they are debated in private.”

The future of Shrewsbury Shopping Centres is top secret – why?

Thursday afternoon was to be the big announcement. Local media were invited to a briefing to hear about the future plans for redevelopment and repurposing and the Shrewsbury shopping centres purchased for a princely ransom of £51 million in 2018. But hours before the briefing it was called off. BBC Radio Shropshire’s Joanne Gallagher said on air this morning that she and media colleagues were told that that the council paper on the shopping centres had been pulled. That was it. The story of the month was dead. Except it wasn’t. When the council papers were published yesterday the shopping centre paper had reappeared. Except it is now exempt, which is a council code word for secret. Neither the press of public will be allowed to see the paper or hear the in camera debate in Theatre Severn next Thursday. The reason that the shopping centres are being discussed in camera is because they are an embarrassment for the council leadership. It is a council that doesn’t know a hawk from a handsaw, an investment from a flop. There is no reason why this paper should be exempt. I am calling for it to be released immediately.

Shropshire Conservatives can’t be trusted with our money after wasting it on Shrewsbury shopping centres

Look hard at the Conservative leaflets that have been pushed through your letterboxes. Do you see any mention of the purchase of the £51 million Shrewsbury shopping centres? £450 for every council tax payer? Of course not. The Conservatives pressured Shropshire Council into buying the retails units just before the market collapsed and that was before coronavirus. Before the pandemic, the shopping centres were providing the council with an annual return on investment of less than half a per cent. The centres were pushed through the council by Peter Nutting who has long seen himself as Mr Shrewsbury with the task of promoting Shrewsbury First. After the purchase, he even had the gall to tell councillors there was no money for investment in the market towns.

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