TOWN Hall chiefs at Warrington are being urged to support the town’s retail high street by working with national businesses to bring a vacant town centre property back into active use.
A report by council leader Russ Bowden to be presented to the borough council’s executive board next Monday does not name the property involved – a section of the report setting out the full proposals and financial details will be discussed in private – but it lists a number of businesses to have failed in Warrington last year.
These include Crawshaws, Evans Cycles, Coast, House of Fraser, Poundworld, Grainger Games, Claires, Maplin and Toys R Us.
A number of other stores stand empty, including the former Marks and Spencer store in Sankey Street which closed in 2017 and Homebase on the Riverside Retail Park.
Cllr Bowden’s report says the report is in line with the council’s policy framework of investing in, maintaining and building the town’s economic and environmental infrastructure through delivery of the “Warrington Means Business” strategy.
It acknowledges that high street retailing has suffered a considerable economic downturn in recent years, influenced by online shopping, changing cultural trends and people seeking better value and experiences.
Town centres across the UK have seen increases in empty property and former shops being left vacant.
Warrington has not seen the level of empty shops that some neighbouring towns have suffered, but high profile retail closures have impacted on the town centre.
“In partnership with the owners of Golden Square, the new town centre BID team and the local business community, the council is working to minimise economic impact through both financial investment and support, “says Cllr Bowden.
“The council has a key role in protecting our high street tradition and improving the environment for the future of our town.
“The council maintains a very close watch on economic and property market activity in the town….we are aware of many property opportunities coming to the market.”
A property transaction and regeneration opportunity has been identified which, if delivered, will support and enhance the current town centre offer, while also providing best financial value to the council.
It would generate a commercial return to the council, would represent best value and there would be no ongoing revenue liabilities for the council.
The report recommends proceeding with the transaction to support town centre vibrancy, enabling the property to be brought back into viable economic use and providing a commercial return for the council.