Owners of Ravenscourt Shopping Centre urged to Redevelop Property

Posted on 25 November, 2014 by Kirsten Kennedy

As supermarket groups continue to rein in spending by abandoning proposed developments, local communities are beginning to openly resent affected sites being left in almost derelict states in their wake. This has seen Walsall residents call upon the council to force owners of the Ravenscroft Shopping Centre in the town centre, with Walsall Council giving only six months for plans to be submitted for consideration.

Owners-of- ravenscourt- shopping- centre-urged-to -redevelop- property

The shopping centre was initially earmarked for takeover by Tesco, with the ensuing overhaul of the site expected to create around 150 new jobs for the local economy. Unfortunately, due to the onset of the supermarket price war and Tesco’s resulting financial black hole, this plan had to be dropped – causing local residents to voice concerns over the general appearance of the property in a petition for action which garnered more than 500 signatures.

At present, the centre has a high vacancy rate as the proposals by Tesco, along with the centre’s general appearance, have caused traders to leave in near record numbers. As a result, the area has become a hotspot for anti-social behaviour, with fly tipping and graffiti compounding the issues brought about by the poor maintenance of timber window and fascia boardings.

A meeting will take place this week to determine what, if anything, the council can do in order to intervene in the situation. It is expected that councillors will continue to work with the owners via the local authority’s planning officers, but will also set the time limit for serving a planning enforcement notice should the issue fail to be addressed by July.

Unfortunately, this leaves the council in something of a sticky situation as, in a report detailing the problems facing Ravenscourt Shopping Centre, it was pointed out that “the council does not have sufficient financial resources to redevelop the centre” and it was “not possible for the authority to justify making a compulsory purchase order at the current time.”

It continued; “Should a private developer come forward in future with viable redevelopment plans then it may be possible to use compulsory purchase powers if the tests are satisfied.”

At present, therefore, the future of Ravenscourt Shopping Centre is somewhat up in the air as, should the current owners fail to comply with the council’s mandate, it could either then be taken over by the council or placed on the common market as a means of attracting a development firm. However, as discussions with the owners regarding the condition of the building have been ongoing for several years at this point, it seems that a redevelopment or refurbishment under current conditions is rather unlikely.

Regardless of the outcome of council talks, it has become extremely clear to local residents that something must be done – the condition of the shopping centre and its high vacancy rate has led to an overall gradual decline in the area as a whole. Hopefully, a solution which suits all parties will be found, although Walsall residents may remain sceptical that the Ravenscourt saga will ever end.

Do you think a compulsory purchase order and a partnership with a development firm would be the best possible outcome for Walsall Council?

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