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Chorley Council in talks to buy Market Walk
A MAJOR shopping centre is for sale with a council entering talks with a view to buying and running it.
Chorley Council will probe the feasibility of bringing the Market Walk retail mall into council ownership.
The Labour-run council is to set up an all-party steering group to look at the risks and the advantages of buying it, taking into account initial costs and subsequent management.
It is understood the council has entered an exclusive six-week negotiating period with owners Orchard Street Investments and has already committed up to £40,000 on the due diligence process which will need to take place.
No figure has been released on the asking price for the centre but it is thought it could be tens of millions.
Market Walk links the town’s two market places. It has around 30 retail and food outlets including Boots, Costa, Rymans, Holland & Barrett, Iceland, EE and Vodafone.
Councillor Peter Wilson, Chorley Council deputy leader and executive member for the town centre, said: “This opportunity has come up and we really could not let it go without at least looking into the possibility of purchasing it.
“Yes, it would be a major investment for the council, yet it would give us control over a major town centre asset.
“Just as importantly we would get an ongoing income stream which could be used to support development of the town or council services.”
On Tuesday, the council approved setting up the all-party steering group chaired by council leader Coun Alistair Bradley. Legal investigations will also get under way and the steering group will report any recommendations back to full council for a decision.
The Conservative opposition voted against the proposal but later agreed to sit on the panel looking into the scheme.
Their leader, councillor Greg Morgan, said: “Our position is that we don’t believe the council should be a major developer. We don’t have the commercial experience.”
Orchard Street Investments declined to comment.
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