Here’s a lesson for those who see local authorities being to blame for the demise of our high streets.
Over the last few years Stockport has invested multiple millions into a series of redevelopments – with the sum effect on retail and footfall being virtually nought.
And, if further proof of the futility was necessary Marks & Spencer closed their store in Merseyway last year.
News is now emerging that Intu, which owns the Trafford Centre and the Manchester Arndale, is also facing a very bleak future.
Intu, which had already been involved in two failed takeover bids, had recently entered into talks with Manchester property firm Peel and Link Real Estate Investment Trust over a £1bn fund-raiser, but just a few days later Link pulled out.
The shopping centre owner has been hit by the national downturn in the retail sector and a wave of administrations – resulting in debts of £4.7bn and a reduction in share value of 31%, plunging to an all-time low of 11p and giving the company a market value of just £163m.
Five years ago shares were valued at more than 370p.
Many of Intu’s biggest tenants including Debenhams, House of Fraser and Arcadia, have been closing stores or asking for rent reductions and Intu has started selling off some of its shopping centres to raise cash.
It’s even being intimated that Intu will likely end up being owned by whoever owns the debt and is symptomatic of the wider retail sector with the trend of people moving to shopping online.
Cheshire’s towns, in particular Macclesfield, are all facing major problems – but just imagine if Macclesfield had succumbed to the pressure of the developers (and the local planners) and gone ahead with the several ludicrously optimistic town centre redevelopment schemes – all of which were opposed by ilovemacc.
Any one of these would have seen the town torn apart, have cost council taxpayers millions and been a lasting memorial to the reliability of town centre planners’ advice and predictions.
It would appear that Cheshire East’s plans to redevelop Crewe are at an advanced stage – our advice is for the councillors to look around and see what’s happening to retail throughout the country – before any more funds are committed to yet another futile retail scheme.
Unless there’s a radical change in planning and business rates – retail is pretty much stuffed.