The green light for North East Lincolnshire Council to go ahead with buying Freshney Place shopping centre was given at a meeting tonight.
Members at the Full Council approved the purchase of the shopping centre – a recommendation that was approved by the Council’s Cabinet in June. The Full Council meeting heard from Leader Cllr Philip Jackson that the purchase was ‘vital’ to ensure a healthy future for Grimsby Town Centre.
The news comes as it was also revealed that local cinema company The Parkway is the operator behind plans to open a big screen within the planned new development at the western end of Freshney Place. As reported, the current Top Town Market is set to move, making way for leisure activities with a cinema a priority. Cllr Jackson expressed his delight that it was a local company involved, allowing the Top Town cinema to complement its operation in Cleethorpes.
As previously reported, the Grimsby shopping centre went into receivership earlier this year, and the deadline for bids for its sale closed last month. The council bid for the centre was submitted and following this decision will be subject to further due diligence in the coming weeks.
Cllr Philip Jackson, leader of the Council, said: “We needed to take this course of action to make sure we can continue to deliver our transformation of the urban heart of Grimsby. If we didn’t agree to 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.
“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.”
The plan for the centre would be 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 in the near future.
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.