Council acquires ‘ailing’ 250,000 sq ft shopping centre

Stafford’s “ailing” Guildhall Shopping Centre has been bought as part of major regeneration plans.

It marks an exit for Mercia Real Estate after the 250,000 sq ft asset was purchased by Stafford Borough Council, with money secured from the Government to fund the deal.

The council’s deputy leader Rob Kenney says Mercia’s plans to develop the site had stalled and it was “looking at the centre being mothballed for many years before anything would start or come to fruition”.

Guildhall, which comprises 111,600 sq ft of retail space, was acquired by Mercia in May 2021. It’s home to around 20 retail and business units as well as office accommodation, an indoor market and disused car park. A valuation report has ruled out any chances of bringing the car park back into use in the short term because of the significant work required.

Stafford’s town centre has been in decline over recent years with very few shops trading inside the complex.

The search for a development partner will now begin, whilst the council puts forward a business case.

Stafford Borough Council leader, Aidan Godfrey said: “The number one issue for people in Stafford was the state of the town centre – and we have made improving it this council’s top priority.

“This is ‘Project Stafford’ and it is great news for the county town. I am extremely excited about the future of the High Street with so many projects taking shape.”

Proposals are also moving on the Stafford Station Gateway scheme – which will include a government and private sector-backed £18m Institute of Technology for Stafford College – as well as a hotel, new businesses, homes, and leisure offer. The ‘Gateway’ was awarded £20m towards the end of 2023 to help progress the project.

Click here to sign up to receive our new South West business news...