Shrewsbury shopping centres – an update on future plans
A report about Shropshire Council’s plans for the future of Shrewsbury’s shopping centres will be presented to councillors at a meeting of the full Council on 19 December .
Shropshire Council acquired the three shopping centres – Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside – in January 2018 with the primary purpose to support the economic growth and regeneration of Shrewsbury town centre.
The report to Council outlines the business plan for the three centres. Broadly this is to ensure that the Darwin Shopping Centre acts as the primary retail centre, and we have had some recent successful lease renewals and secured tenants to strengthen this position.
This year (2019) four national retailers reinforced their commitment to Shrewsbury and the town’s shopping centres by signing new long-term leases for their Darwin Centre stores. Fashion retailer H&M agreed a new 10-year lease, The Perfume Shop agreed a new five-year lease, Top Shop/Top Man has committed to a further three years, and QVC also agreed a new three-year lease.
Since last year we have welcomed a wide range of businesses. For example, in late 2018 JD Sports and Planet Doughnut opened in the Darwin Centre. At the same time Wilko and local artist Megan Hawkins opened new stores in the Pride Hill Centre.
In early 2020 we’ll be sharing the programme for the demolition and work on future uses for the Riverside Shopping Centre. This will first be shared with the Riverside Centre tenants. This programme is a key part of the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan.
Our strategy for the Pride Hill Shopping Centre is to repurpose the vacant units. The centre has recently seen the closure of the Next store – which has consolidated at Meole Brace in Shrewsbury – and this is impacting on the environment and footfall in the centre. Footfall in the Pride Hill Centre for November 2019 was 13% down on November 2018.
Shropshire Council is currently considering an investment in the Pride Hill Centre which will enable this strategy to go forward – improving the centre’s environment and repurposing some of the vacant spaces.
The national position for retail is undergoing unprecedented change – it was recently reported that nationally 6000 shops have closed this year alone. Overall Shrewsbury is performing comparatively well on trading and footfall, but we have to respond to market changes and consumer trends.
Shropshire Council has commissioned some audience research work in conjunction with Shrewsbury BID which will give us some real insight into the consumers currently using Shrewsbury and the market potential for the future.
We’ll continue to provide further updates as our plans develop.