Manchester

Barons Quay: Council agrees £1.3m boost for Northwich retail development

Baron's Quay
Image caption The Baron's Quay development in Northwich town centre.

An extra £1.3m of taxpayers' money will be spent enticing customers into an £80m shopping centre where only one newly-built retail unit is occupied.

Construction work on Baron's Quay in Northwich town centre was completed last November but dozens of units remain empty.

Cheshire West and Chester Council's Brian Clarke admitted attracting tenants had "proved challenging".

The council has now approved the extra cash which is to be spent on marketing.

Negotiations with potential occupiers was "ongoing", the council said.

The Barons Quay project was built on the site of abandoned salt mines, which were filled in with grout to prevent their collapse. This stabilisation work in 2007 cost £32m.

An Odeon cinema and supermarket opened in 2016 in the first phase of the scheme.

Restaurant operator Wildwood has taken one of the new retail units, but all others are empty.

Image caption Building work on Barons Quay was completed last November.

A council report said the authority was targeting "key fashion-led retailers and quality food and drink operators".

"In the current retail market this strategy is certainly a challenging one to deliver.

"It will require further investment to optimise the chances of success, and a longer timeline than originally anticipated," the report said.

The extra money was approved by councillors on Thursday and will pay for marketing and salaries for those responsible for leasing the retail units.

Mr Clarke said: "Confidential discussions are progressing positively with a number of potential new tenants."

He said the council was "confident" Barons Quay "will be successful" and that it was a "long-term investment".

The council took over as the developer of the scheme in July 2013 after an agreement with a private developer was terminated in 2008 when the plans were put on hold due to the recession.

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