June 10, 2022 11.00 am

Council plans to buy Grimsby shopping centre Freshney Place

If successful, it would secure 1,700 jobs

North East Lincolnsihre Council has unveiled plans to buy Freshney Place to secure the future of Grimsby’s main shopping centre and the 1,700 jobs that go with it.

The shopping centre went into receivership earlier this year and is currently up for sale. The council’s priority plan is to acquire Freshney Place using the national Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) money.

The council would then bid for replacement money to continue the FHSF work at the western end of Freshney Place and Victoria Street through the Levelling Up Funds Round Two process. The authority can then submit one bid per parliamentary constituency, with a third ringfenced for transport in July this year.

A report outlining the council’s desire to purchase the shopping centre will go before a special Cabinet meeting and then on to Full Council. If successful, the centre would be run by external Asset Managers with the council taking an ‘arms-length’ approach.

The report highlights the following points to show why it is so important that this course of action is taken by the council:

  • If Freshney Place was acquired by a “passive owner” unwilling to invest to deliver a leisure scheme and future proof the centre, it is anticipated decline would accelerate
  • Other local authorities with similar issues have stepped in with 30 similar purchases in the last five years, with some starting to see ‘significant progress in implementing their masterplans’
  • The centre makes up 60% of the town centre’s retail offer, supporting one in five jobs within that area
  • This move will safeguard a critical part of Grimsby town centre’s economic and community infrastructure, ensuring it retains a competitive retail and service offer, and safeguarding up to 1,700 jobs within Freshney Place and Top Town Market
  • The council said the continued decline of Freshney Place would have a ‘catastrophic impact’ on Grimsby town centre, which serves a wide retail catchment population of more than 300,000
  • Grant funding from central government, including the Towns Fund, has seen significant transformation in the town centre with projects still underway. The council said to enable this regeneration to continue, Freshney Place must have a stable future.

The report says: “Freshney Place is a significant asset within the Grimsby town centre, but the Council has not been able to utilise it fully to enact the transformational change it seeks within the town centre.

“Therefore, besides safeguarding against the impacts of potential closure, the Council’s acquisition of Freshney Place would enable it to use it as part of the wider town centre transformation more easily.”