I write in response to Trevor Morriss’s article, ‘Malls can hold key to levelling up’. Shropshire Council purchased the Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside shopping centres in January 2018 to support the economic growth and regeneration of Shrewsbury town centre. 

If the council hadn’t intervened, the likelihood is two out of the three sites would have had little prospect of third-party redevelopment, with an obvious impact on Shropshire’s economy.

The council has consolidated the retail offer inside the Darwin centre and removed surplus space to ensure the overall retail offer is enhanced and protected within Shrewsbury. The Darwin centre has been invested in and is now a key regional retail and leisure destination, consistently outperforming the UK Shopping Centre benchmark and generating income for the council.

The Riverside and Pride Hill sites, still in council ownership, are now virtually vacated to pave the way for major mixed-use development site opportunities, combining new leisure attractions, vibrant hospitality, residential and public space, a new quayside, workspace and housing to complement the town’s existing retail.

This will transform Shrewsbury’s town centre for generations, creating a sustainable 21st-century destination, with increased employment and an enhanced visitor experience. The development will help the town embrace one of its best assets, the River Severn, to create a stunning riverside attraction. This is the future vision of Shrewsbury that respects its past and reconnects it with the river, transforming where and how people work, live and spend valuable leisure time.

Shrewsbury is a great example of a town embracing the changing retail landscape and taking the necessary steps to maintain appeal as a major regional destination. Shropshire Council purchased the centres to enable real change in Shrewsbury, and Shropshire will prosper in the long term because the council has embraced change with new uses, services and experiences being added to Shrewsbury’s strong offer.

Prof Mark Barrow, executive director: place, Shropshire Council