Chesterfield Borough Council bids to take control of 'pivotal' town shopping centre
Council leaders are hoping to take control of a ‘pivotal’ Chesterfield shopping centre in a bid to secure its future.
Chesterfield borough councillors voted in favour of acquiring the leasehold of The Pavements Shopping Centre, in Chesterfield town centre, at a meeting on Wednesday.
They say it will allow them to be able to ‘control the future direction’ of the centre amid uncertainty about how high streets up and down the country recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
However, opposition councillors say the move could prove ‘expensive’ and have called on the authority to reject the 'same old, same old' approach – and find a new way to reinvigorate the town centre.
The decision is subject to further due diligence and agreement of terms.
Councillor Tricia Gilby, leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, said: “The Pavements Shopping Centre plays a pivotal role in welcoming shoppers and visitors to Chesterfield town centre.
“Assuming we are successful in acquiring the leasehold, the council will be able to control the future direction of the shopping centre; shape the Southern Gateway to Chesterfield town centre; and build on the council’s many other ambitious plans for the town centre.”
The council already owns the land on which the shopping centre is built, but the leasehold is held by a successor company to the CIN Pension Fund which originally built The Pavements in the early 1980’s.
The council says it has taken specialist advice from property investment advisors, who concluded the move is financially prudent.
But Liberal Democrat councillor Howard Borrell said: “Long before Covid hit, high streets everywhere have been struggling, due to out-of-town competition and the rise of internet shopping.
"Currently over 45 per cent of all shopping is being done online. The council taking full ownership of The Pavements at this time is therefore not only expensive but very challenging to say the least.”
He said old and new customers ‘need to be attracted by a mix of indoor and outdoor leisure, arts and a thriving independent retail sector’.
We asked the council how much would it cost to acquire the leasehold, and whether they were able to give any more information about plans the council has for the shopping centre if the deal goes ahead.
A spokesperson said that ‘due to commercial sensitivities’ the council could not comment further.