The redevelopment of the 400,000 sq ft shopping centre Sefton Council bought for £32.5m in 2017 has been pushed back due to the “severe impacts” of the pandemic.
A report to the council’s cabinet said the formulation of a business case for the Strand revamp, which will anchor the regeneration of Bootle town centre, has been put on hold “until the medium-term outlook is clearer”.
Sefton’s decision to delay the project was influenced largely by the shopping centre’s current financial position, the report added.
The council said it anticipates the Strand will make a loss of between £2.65m and £3.18m for the financial year, primarily due to tenants not paying rent throughout the pandemic.
It will be the first time the council has made a loss on the Strand since it bought the site, according to the report.
Despite the current difficulties the council faces in relation to the Strand, it maintained it is“ fully committed to supporting and securing investment…to reverse the decline [the shopping centre] was suffering in the hands of private ownership”.
No revised timescale for the creation of a business case has been put forward.
The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has contributed £1.65m over the last two years to progress the project, helping to fund the acquisition and clearance of land around the shopping centre next to the Liverpool and Leeds Canal.
Last August, Sefton released indicative CGIs by Leonard Design Architects. Interim proposals for meanwhile uses for the retail complex include food and drink establishments, pop-up markets, artists studios and craft workshops, and education and training facilities.
Work is also underway to ensure that meanwhile uses are in place for the summer of 2021 while longer-term plans are worked up, the council said.
Longer term, a partnering arrangement with the Canals & Rivers Trust would also integrate the site with the canal to enable it to be brought fully back into use and provide a possible ‘waterway link’ to Bramley-Moore Dock in advance of the proposed new Everton FC stadium.
Sefton Council declined to comment when contacted by Place North West.