The first stage of the future redevelopment of Shrewsbury’s Riverside shopping centre will be considered next week by Shropshire Council’s Cabinet (on Wednesday 12 December 2018).

A report will outline the work planned for the next two years and seek Cabinet’s approval to proceed. This includes beginning the demolition of the existing Riverside Centre by 2020, though over the next two years Shropshire Council will work closely with the existing Riverside tenants, sharing information, plans and timescales – and working with them to ensure the success of the centre during this period.

Through the purchase of three of Shrewsbury’s shopping centres, and the recently approved Shrewsbury Big Town Plan, Shropshire Council aims to create a distinctive, thriving and future-proofed town centre offer in Shrewsbury.

To do this, the council will be producing a Strategic Development Framework (SDF) series of documents which will determine the appropriate mix of retail, leisure, tourist, commercial, residential and other destination attractions.

The SDF will set the principles for what the council, as asset owner, wants to see come forward, and will articulate these in a way which is easy for investors to respond to. This, in turn, will bring investment forward, including further potential for investment from the council and the private sector.

The investment opportunities will be set out in an indicative masterplan, showing architectural drawing and conceptual ideas which might, for example, include a hotel, cinema, public open space, improved transport, offices, leisure, and public realm; all of which will add more detail to – and work with – the Big Town Plan.

At their meeting Cabinet will be asked to approve an initial budget of £500,000 to secure the appropriate resources and expertise to deliver this next stage of work, and to agree the appointment of two dedicated posts to support its implementation.

Meanwhile, Shropshire Council is also finalising its investment plans for the Darwin Centre and Pride Hill Centre, and more details will be shared in the coming months.

Peter Nutting, Leader of Shropshire Council, said:

“Our primary objective in purchasing the shopping centres was to enable the economic growth and regeneration of Shrewsbury town centre. To meet this objective we now need to progress the future development of the shopping centres, in particular Riverside, in the context of the Big Town Plan.

“Producing a strategic development framework will ensure that the appropriate quality is demanded in development and investment opportunities. And, through the Masterplan, we can ensure that there’s a coherent and logical feel to the town centre, which will create an attractive and distinctive experience for users, and increase footfall throughout the town.”

Steve Charmley, Deputy Leader of Shropshire Council, said:

“The redevelopment and transformation of Riverside is both exciting and fundamental for the future of Shrewsbury, and we are committed to getting this right for generations of residents, businesses and visitors in the town. The redevelopment has started to be considered as part of the Big Town Plan, but we have much more work to do to develop plans to create a new part of the town centre.

“The opportunity to redevelop Riverside is truly transformational. An opportunity of this scale and impact comes along once in a generation and it provides the platform to create the long-term sustainability of Shrewsbury and wider benefits for Shropshire as a whole.

“Over the coming months, we’ll be working up a framework for this and we’ll be working closely with the existing Riverside tenants over the next two years, sharing information, plans and timescales with them once available – and working with them to ensure the success of the centre during this period.”

Further information

1. The two posts that would be created are:

A Shrewsbury-focused project manager to support the next stage of the shopping centres, including producing the Strategic Development Framework to take the project to delivery stage.
A Shrewsbury Big Town Plan programme officer – co-funded by Shropshire Council, Shrewsbury BID and Shrewsbury Town Council.

 2. Shrewsbury Big Town Plan

Cabinet agreed the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan in November 2018. The purpose of the Plan is to be an investment prospectus where individuals and organisations looking to invest in Shrewsbury have a clear idea of the town’s vision, aspirations and development opportunities – and how they can be part of that. It also provides a strong statement for residents, employers and visitors to Shrewsbury of how they can expect their town to develop over time, and how that growth and change is being planned, co-ordinated and communicated.