Cheshire West & Chester Council has acquired the Winsford Cross shopping centre from Winsford Cross Developments.
Although the exact price for the centre was not revealed, the council told Place North West that it had paid £19.75m for the centre “and a number of potential development sites which combined with the council’s existing land interests in the town centre provide significant opportunities for redevelopment”.
Brian Clarke, cabinet member for economic development and infrastructure at CWAC, said: “This is fantastic news for Winsford. The Council owns several sites within the town centre, however the one missing piece of the jigsaw was the shopping centre.
“Winsford is a town on the up and by purchasing the shopping centre and the land around it we are unlocking the opportunity for a more comprehensive development of the town centre – one that matches our aspirations for the whole of Winsford.”
In 2016, the Council announced programmes to build on the aims of the Winsford Neighbourhood Plan, setting out plans on job creation, the improvement of leisure facilities and the building of new homes. Siginificant investments have been made in Winsford Town Park and High Street, the council said.
Following the acquisition, the council said that it will immediately set to work on “much needed” repairs and minor alterations to improve the overall look and feel of the centre.
Michael Brown, director of Winsford Cross Developments and also a director of Maloneview, which is behind the £65m redevelopment of Sale town centre, said: “We are pleased that after a challenging negotiation we have been able to agree the sale of the asset to the council.
“We believe that the council is now well placed to take forward a more comprehensive redevelopment of the town centre and unlock the undoubted potential that exists within the town.
“On behalf of Winsford Cross Developments I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Winsford as well as the staff and tenants of Winsford Cross shopping centre for their support over the past 12 years.”
CWAC will in the coming months consult local businesses and residents to help shape a masterplan for Winsford town centre’s transformation.
A cross-party member working group will help to steer plans for the regeneration of Winsford, shaping the town of the future.
The deal reflects a trend of councils investing to better steer the direction of struggling town centres – Stockport intervened to buy the Merseyway centre, while Oldham took the lead in delivering its Old Town Hall development after losing patience with developers.
Two years ago, CWAC itself bought the Weaver Square shopping centre in Northwich, where plans are now moving into the next stage of consultation.
At present, 21 units of the 85 in the centre are listed as vacant on the Winsford Cross website.