THE former House of Fraser building on Grimsby’s Victoria Street West has been bought by North East Lincolnshire Council as it continues its drive towards town centre transformation.
Contracts have been exchanged today and the sale, which has been advised by strategic partner Queensberry, also includes a leasehold on an adjacent car park.
The prominent five-storey building sits within the council owned Freshney Place and with a high-profile frontage on 9 to 29 Victoria Street West, it has been empty since House of Fraser closed four years ago.
Continuing to see it unused was not an option, said Council Leader Cllr Philip Jackson, who has responsibilities for regeneration and the economy. This purchase, he explained, would provide yet more opportunity for the authority and its partners to look at the redevelopment and diverse use of Freshney Place as a whole.
“In order to effect change, which we all know is needed, we must look at opportunities such as this with a view to shaping and guiding redevelopment. Town Centres across the country have changed almost beyond what any of us would have anticipated and that is what we are determined to do here,” said Cllr Jackson.
“We have a fantastic opportunity to re-invent Freshney Place and complement its retail offer with the new cinema, leisure attractions, and fresh new market. The House of Fraser building will now form an integral part of those plans. This is a good move for the town centre,” he added.
Over the last five years, the reshaping of the town centre has been led by the local authority. Along with partners and stakeholders including the Greater Grimsby Town Board, it has won multi-million-pound funding bids from Central Government.
This money, all ring-fenced for specific projects, has seen the transformation of St James’ Square and Garth Lane with its new footbridge, river dredging and extensive paving and landscaping. Further to that, work has started on the redundant St James’ House with the E-Factor purchasing the building to create a business hub.
This is in addition to the Future High Streets Fund, and projects earmarked for Towns Fund money including the already underway full refurb of Riverhead Square, a plan for new housing at Alexandra Dock and the new OnSide ‘Horizon’ Youth Zone. The latter involves the transformation of the historic redundant buildings along Garth Lane into a state-of-the-art centre for young people.
Meanwhile initial work has now started with Queensberry on the multi-million-pound Freshney Place Leisure & Market Hall Scheme with its new cinema, market, and leisure attractions. More good news is the arrival, in mid-2024 of a Community Diagnostic Centre. The NHS facility in Freshney Place will bring thousands more people into the town centre every year – with such increased footfall through the town centre presenting more opportunities.