Hope for Debenhams store in Burton as Coopers Square shopping centre is sold as part of £246m deal
THE largest shopping centre in Burton has changed hands – raising hopes that multi-million-pound plans to extend the building will be resurrected.
Grosvenor Fund Management has sold Coopers Square shopping centre to London-based real estate fund manager F&C REIT.
It is part of a £246 million deal, which includes the sale of other Grosvenor shopping centres – Freshney Place, in Grimsby, and The Eastgate Centre, in Inverness.
Grosvenor put Coopers Square, which has a floor space of 385,000sq ft, on the market just over a year ago.
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In 2011, the centre received permission for a £25 million extension, which would have included a Debenhams department store.
But the development was put on hold when the centre was put up for sale.
It is now hoped that the plan to add 110,000 sq ft to the centre will go ahead.
In January last year, Grosvenor opted to sell Coopers Square as the fund it managed for investors in the centre was due to expire in 2014, leaving it with no guarantee of bringing the extension plans to fruition.
The firm, which has owned and managed Coopers Square since 2000, received permission for the development in October 2011.
F&C REIT already owns the Middleway Retail Park, in Burton. It said it would be looking to invest in Coopers Square.
Director of investments Zvi Noe said: "There is an exciting range of income and value-enhancing asset management initiatives to explore. These include physical improvements to the properties, increasing occupancy, improving the tenant mix, re-gearing existing leases and potential extensions to the existing schemes."
Burton MP Andrew Griffiths said: "I have my fingers crossed that this new investment will produce the long-awaited Debenhams, which I believe will make us a shopping centre of choice for many people in the area and will have a massive knock-on effect on small independent retailers in the town."
It is estimated that the Coopers Square extension could create an extra 200 jobs. As well as the Debenhams store, it would include 11 two-storey shops and a rooftop car park.
Five businesses in Station Street – two estate agents, Retro nightclub, a dry cleaner and the Royal Bank of Scotland – would be demolished and relocated to make way for the department store.