Sefton Council has instructed K2 Architects and Avison Young to draw up plans for the redevelopment of the 400,000 sq ft shopping centre, which the authority bought for £32.5m in 2017.
The consultancies will provide strategic advice to identify the best options for investment in the Bootle Strand Shopping Centre to “deliver more appropriate amenity for residents and make better use of the shopping centre itself”, according to Avison Young.
Sefton acquired the shopping centre from Ellandi to gain more control over the regeneration of Bootle town centre but progress on those plans has been slow.
In February, Sefton announced its plan to draw up a business case for the scheme was on hold due to “the severe impacts of the pandemic”.
However, the appointments of K2 and Avison Young suggest that the redevelopment of the shopping centre is now moving forward.
“The Strand is a catalytic project for Bootle and is of great significance to the wider Liverpool City Region,” said Stephen Cowperthwaite, principal and managing director of Avison Young’s Liverpool office.
“We share the council’s passion for the transformation of Bootle and to bring much needed investment into the town to benefit the community.”
Place North West reported last week that the value of the Strand had more than halved to £14.24m in the four years since Sefton bought it.
However, the council has stood by its decision to take ownership of the retail complex, claiming it was “the correct one”.
Cowperthwaite added: “Trading conditions for shopping centres have been challenging in recent years, with structural changes including the rise of online shopping, accelerated by Covid-19, fuelling the need for assets and town centres to evolve.
“Sefton Council’s ownership of the Strand, alongside its strategic acquisition of adjacent land, means it is well placed to plan and lead Bootle’s transformation and take a long-term investment view.”
While work to revamp the Strand is just getting started, projects around the shopping centre are underway following a series of land buys by the council.
These include Bootle Canalside, a food, drinks and events space by the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Plans for the project were approved in August and Sefton Council is hopeful the government will approve a Levelling Up Fund bid of £14.5m help deliver the scheme.
The bid also features plans to create a flying theatre visitor attraction at the site.