The council and the developer intend to work together to redevelop the shopping centre to “future-proof Bury town centre” and deliver homes and employment opportunities.
Mill Gate, which covers 15 acres and is currently owned by InfraRed Capital, is identified as “the most important area of intervention” within Bury’s town centre masterplan, according to a report to the authority’s cabinet.
The site presents “significant development opportunities to deliver once in a generation investment into housing, employment, civic infrastructure along with unlocking opportunities for new wellness, health, and education facilities”, the report adds.
To bring the project forward, the council is to enter into a joint venture with Bruntwood, described by the authority as a “best-in-class developer with an award-winning track record of regenerating urban centres”.
Bruntwood is working on a similar project with Trafford Council, where the developer is leading the transformation of Stretford Mall.
Under the terms of the Bury/Bruntwood agreement, the council will buy Mill Gate Shopping Centre from InfraRed in January, subject to cabinet approval.
The acquisition will pave the way for the estate’s redevelopment.
As well as revamping the shopping centre, the creation of a joint venture presents the opportunity to address issues in the surrounding area and “reshape the Millgate to address acute economic, health and wellbeing issues”.
The cabinet report notes that neighbourhoods near the shopping centre are ranked in the top 10% most deprived parts of the country.
As well as the shopping centre, the Millgate estate includes a multi-storey car park, a large office suite and some service yards with development potential.
A spokesperson from Bruntwood said: “Creating thriving towns and cities is our purpose and we are proud of our track record of transformational town centre regeneration projects in Greater Manchester to date. We remain open to exploring new opportunities, like Bury, across the city region.”
InfraRed bought Mill Gate from Aberdeen Asset Management in 2014 for £52m. Since then, an additional £20m has been invested in the asset.
Vacancy rates within the centre, which has more than 460 retail units, have increased in recent years in line with the decline in the popularity of high streets more generally.