Saturday, June 25, 2022

Council’s plans to buy Freshney Place move a step closer

A plan for Freshney Place Shopping Centre to be bought by North East Lincolnshire Council has moved a step closer, following approval at the Council’s Cabinet meeting yesterday [22 June 2022].

The Grimsby centre went into receivership earlier this year, and the deadline for bids for its sale closed on Tuesday [21 June 2022]. The council has confirmed a bid has been submitted but the final decision to purchase the centre must have Full Council approval. The plan will be discussed at a special meeting in July.

Cllr Philip Jackson, leader of the Council, said: “It is vital that we take this course of action to make sure we can continue to deliver our transformation of the urban heart of Grimsby. If we don’t buy the centre, it could be bought by someone who is unwilling to invest and the decline of the heart of our town centre would be devastating.”

The centre makes up 60 per cent of the town centre’s retail offer, supporting one in five jobs within that area.

“The move to secure the centre will safeguard a critical part of Grimsby town centre’s economic and community infrastructure,” continued Cllr Jackson. “Ensuring it retains a competitive retail and service offer is key to safeguarding up to 1,700 jobs within Freshney Place and Top Town Market.

“If this is approved, subject to due diligence, we would be looking to appoint external asset managers with significant experience to run the centre on a day-to-day basis with the council taking an ‘arms-length’ approach.

“To enable this regeneration to continue, Freshney Place, a huge space in our town centre, must have a stable future. If this becomes Council-owned, this would mean that we could take Freshney Place into account when we’re looking at the transformation of the whole of our town centre, potentially bringing in different offers, using the centre in different and more modern ways to reduce its current over-reliance on retail.”

Grant funding from Central Government, including the Towns Fund, has already seen significant transformation in the town centre with projects still under way. These include Garth Lane, St James Square, the new Onside Horizon Youth Zone and the conversion of St James House into an E-Factor Group businesses centre and hub.

The plan, if approved by Full Council, is to acquire Freshney Place using the national Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) money. The Council would then bid for replacement money to continue the FHSF work at the western end of Freshney Place and Victoria Street through the ‘LUF (Levelling Up Funds) Round Two’ process.

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