The face of our future

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RAVEN Meadows and the Riverside shopping centre are to be transformed as part of multi-million pound plans to merge Shrewsbury’s shopping centres.

Plans are for the Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside shopping centres to be merged into a £150 m New Riverside mall, owners UK Commercial Property Trust have revealed.

The existing Riverside  centre will be completely rebuilt.

The proposal is to take the new ‘super-mall’ up to the riverside on Smithfield road, meaning a complete redevelopment of that area of town, to be carried out in phases.

If approved, work could start by summer 2013 and be completed by 2015. It is hoped the centre will attract a new department store and 60 new shops and restaurants.

The plans will be unveiled at a public exhibition in the Darwin centre running from July 14 to 16, with the public being encouraged to give feedback. Representatives of the full development team will be on hand to answer queries.

Owners UK Commercial Property Trust are being advised by Ignis Real Estate and the Shearer Property Group (SPG).

Guy Shearer of SPG said: “The centre of the town has not seen any significant development for 20 years.

“The redevelopment and refurbishment of these three centres is well overdue and will provide a significant improvement in the shopping on offer by attracting a new department store to the town, together with other important retailers not currently represented.”

Adam Markwell, the director of the Shearer Group said the company had already had discussions with both Debenhams and Primark.

David Roger of Ignis said: “We are in a constructive dialogue with Shropshire Council and other stakeholders and we’re hoping people will give us feedback and ideas when we reveal more about what is planned in July.

“By consulting and listening to local views, we are confident we will bring forward the best proposals and ensure we realise the potential for Shrewsbury and secure its long term viability as a retail destination.”

He confirmed the 40-year-old Riverside shopping centre would go.

“The only part that will be demolished is the Riverside mall, the other two centres would remain as they are subject to refurbishment and redevelopment,” he said.

Peter Bettis of Catapillar manufacturing, a member of Shrewsbury business chamber, said: “It’s delightful we’re going to have the investment in the town and that kind of recognition. It will make it part of that visitor destination experience.

“We have a large catchment area with Shropshire and Mid Wales and we want to make the most of it.”

A spokesperson for Debenhams said: "We are always looking for new opportunities and developments that are taking place. There are no confirmed plans for Shrewsbury, but it's not something we would rule out."

Primark had no comment at time of going to press.

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