Wakefield council leader eyes up ownership potential of up-for-sale Riding Shopping Centre

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The leader of Wakefield Council has said it would be “remiss” of the authority “not to look at doing something” about the city’s up-for-sale Ridings Shopping Centre.

It was revealed this week that the council may purchase a stake in the centre, which was put on the market last year.

Councillor Denise Jeffery said no “rash decisions” would be made, with a thorough due diligence exercise set to take place before any public money is invested.

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Under the provisional idea put forward, the council would have no say in the overall running of the centre, which is currently owned by New River Retail.

The Ridings Shopping Centre. Picture: Simon HulmeThe Ridings Shopping Centre. Picture: Simon Hulme
The Ridings Shopping Centre. Picture: Simon Hulme
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But its financial interest would help it follow through on its plans to transform the Kirkgate area of the city centre, which may see part of the Ridings demolished.

The stake would then be sold on after a period of time.

Explaining the idea, Coun Jeffery said: “Shopping is unfortunately not where it’s at anymore, which is sad.

“I remember when we opened Trinity Walk and it was all singing and all dancing and it makes me very sad to see the mess it’s in now. The Ridings is the same.

“We’re not saying we’re going to buy it outright.

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“We’re going to do a feasibility study, which will give us three months of breathing space to see what we can do.”

The council leader revealed there’d been little market interest in buying the Ridings, bar potential investors from India.

Although acknowledging she’s previously claimed it’s “not the council’s place to buy shopping centres”, Coun Jeffery said times and circumstances had changed since.

She added: “If we do get involved, I think it will be more about bringing in new leisure facilities, such as a bowling alley to complement the cinema.

“We might be able to have some influence there

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“Other towns around the district are doing really well in terms of shopping, but Wakefield needs some help.

“That’s why it would be remiss of us not to look at helping. I’m not saying we’re (definitely) going to do it, because there are other things going on and people are struggling at the moment and they need our help.”

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