Bolton Council has bought the Crompton Place shopping centre for £14.8m to help accelerate its £1bn town centre regeneration masterplan.
Cabinet gave approval for the purchase on the May 14 and the council finalised the transaction following the satisfactory completion of extensive ‘due diligence’ checks.
The council has taken over ownership from current owners Santander pension fund.
Property management company JLL will continue to run the centre, which contains 46 retail units; kiosks; office accommodation, and a 285-space car park covering more than 280,000 sq ft.
The purchase has been funded from the council’s £100m town centre fund. The fund is financed through a low interest loan which is repaid using dividends from Manchester Airport and the Yorkshire Purchasing Company.
The shopping centre is central to the authority’s Town Centre Masterplan. Trinity Quarter, Cheadle Square, Church Wharf and Croal Valley are four other key sites in the plan and the council is currently working hard to bring forward ambitious development proposals for these sites.
Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Linda Thomas, described the purchase as an opportunity for transformational change.
She said: “The purchase of Crompton Place is fundamental to support the regeneration and transformation of our town centre.
“It is at the heart of our town’s civic and retail core and this deal means we now have control of a major strategic site that is critical to delivering the Town Centre Masterplan.
“We will now be focusing on ways to regenerate the area for the long term benefit of the town centre and our residents across the borough.
“We have carried out extensive due diligence checks before acquiring the centre and these have confirmed that the purchase price reflects current market conditions and represents fair market value.
“Bolton is following the example of many other local authorities across the country that have also invested in their local shopping centres to deliver regeneration schemes.
“There will be no changes in the day to day operation and running of the shopping centre in the immediate future, to ensure it continues to operate smoothly for tenants and shoppers.”
Over the coming months, detailed ideas for regenerating the centre will be developed and in the long term council chiefs envisage building a completely new centre.
The regeneration of Crompton Place will form part of the council’s wider, longer-term plans to improve the town centre for the benefit of everyone in the borough, including surrounding districts.
Cllr Thomas added: “We have listened to people’s views about the town centre and we are taking action. When we launched the masterplan, we said we would move quickly to make things happen and making this strategic investment which will be a catalyst for huge regeneration.
“Like other councils, we have made this commercial investment because owning the centre gives us the opportunity to influence and lead our town’s regeneration. We will now be able to look at all of the options for Crompton Place and make sure tenants, the public and stakeholders have an opportunity to have their say, before any decisions are made.
“We have all seen the amazing transformation of The Market Place and the benefits that has brought in terms of visitor numbers. Crompton Place also requires that kind of vision and investment to deliver our regeneration plans, complement our existing retail offer, and bring new businesses into the town centre.”