Chorley Council pays £23m for shopping centre
Chorley Council has paid £23million to become the new owner of Market Walk shopping mall.
The 35-unit mall, which houses 26 national retailers plus nine independent shops, was bought by the council after being put up for sale by London-based investment company Orchard Street Investments.
Council bosses say the key strategic town centre site will play a vital role in the council’s vision for a thriving town centre.
The opposition Conservative group opposed the purchase, questioning the authority’s expertise in running such a venture and saying their should be a borough wide referendum on whether to go ahead with the purchase.
Coun Alistair Bradley, Chorley Council leader, said: “This will bring an income stream from the shop rentals that will not only cover the cost of the loan repayments, but will also bring in vital funds which we can use to invest in the town centre or council services to benefit residents.
“With cuts in our budget from central government, we’ve had to look at new ways of bringing more money in. Market Walk was owned by an investment company so all the profits were going out of the borough.
“Also there was the danger that if Market Walk continued to be bought and sold as an investment, no money would be spent on it and rather than it be the successful and profitable concern it is now, it would fall into a state of disrepair which would have a major impact on our town centre.”
The council gave the go ahead to buy the retail mall, which was built in the mid 1990s, at a special meeting last month.
Since then contracts have been exchanged and the transaction completed on November 29.
The council made the decision to buy Market Walk following detailed investigations by an all-party steering group set up in September when it was put on the market by its owners, Orchard Street Investments.
The investment had come to the end of its fixed term which meant the company had to either sell Market Walk or find new investors for another fixed term.
Coun Bradley said: “When we were made aware of this, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to bring such a key part of our town centre under local control. But we didn’t take the decision lightly, we sought expert advice and under took detailed investigations and we believe we can manage and minimise any risk by putting controls and safeguards in place.”
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