Stafford Borough Council has revealed its intention to buy the town’s Guildhall Shopping Centre.
Senior councillors will meet to discuss a proposal to purchase the centre, which also includes the multi-storey car park and office accommodation, next week.
The acquisition would be supported by the more than £14 million which has been secured by the council from the Government’s Future High Street Fund (FHSF).
Council Leader Aidan Godfrey said: “Improving the town centre was the number one issue for residents – and it is the top priority for this council.
“We already made a statement of intent with our plans for the former Co-op department store – and now we want to go one better and buy the Guildhall Shopping Centre.
“By taking the lead on these significant developments we can increase the pace of our regeneration plans which in turn will act as the catalyst for the evolution of the town centre.”
The local authority has said a business case with potential options for the centre will be put forward and the public would be asked for feedback on any proposals next year.
A report to the council’s cabinet next week says that because of the huge scale of the project the council will be looking for a partner to redevelop the site – while preserving businesses around the premises such as the Body Shop and F Hinds jewellers.
But a valuation report commissioned for the local authority rules out any chance of bringing the multi-storey car park back into use in the short term because of significant work required – saying it doesn’t provide “a viable option for the council.”
Stafford Borough Council has said councillors will hear that previous plans by the owners of the Guildhall to develop the site had “stalled” and “could take many years to start or may never come to fruition”.
Deputy Council Leader Rob Kenney, who is leading on the town centre regeneration project, said kick-starting regeneration is “exactly what the council should be doing.”
He added: “We want residents to be proud of their county town, we want visitors to come and shop, we want people to socialise and spend time using hospitality venues, and we want businesses to invest.”
Other FHSF initiatives in the town include the refurbishment on Market Square and work will begin soon on the Stafford Station Gateway project, reported in Daily Focus here.
Stafford Borough Council also recently unveiled plans to buy the town’s former Co-op department store and turn it into a market and living space. Read more here.