Nelson’s Pendle Rise shopping centre could be flattened to make way for new development

Pendle Borough Council wants to move towards buying a shopping centre in Nelson using a legal power called a compulsory purchase order, so it can completely clear the site and redevelop the town centre for a new era.

The borough council, working with a new regeneration partner, wants to create brand new shopping, food-and-drink and social offerings, and new car parking and electric charging facilities.

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It could become the latest in a number of high-profile regeneration projects in the borough linked to government Levelling-Up or Town Deals or other activities such as local joint ventures.

Councillors have discussed the Pendle Rise shopping complex a number of times at meetings

Nelson is the focus of a Town Deal project with the government, with £25million potentially earmarked for the town. Borough councillors have discussed the Pendle Rise shopping complex a number of times at meetings and a Nelson master-plan suggested the collection of shopping centre buildings had become outdated and is a major obstacle to the town centre’s regeneration.

Other factors such as public spaces, roads and traffic, cycle ways, industrial and business parks, and education locations are also being looked at to see how the town centre and surrounding areas can be enhanced.

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Borough councillors will discuss a potential Pendle Rise compulsory purchase order this Thursday at the Policy & Resources Committee, which is one of the most powerful committees.

A report sets out the council’s reasons for considering a compulsory purchase order to the government’s department for Levelling-Up.

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It states: “The council proposes to facilitate a comprehensive redevelopment of the shopping centre, which stands at the heart of Nelson town centre. It is anticipated that this would involve a new building probably on a single level, covering substantially the same footprint as the current site.

“The present complex dates from the 1960s when it was built as an Arndale centre. Although the modernist and inward-facing shopping mall has been popular, serving the area for decades, the facilities have become dated, with a retail ground floor void rateof around 36%. Although the centre does boast well-known brands such as Wilko and Boots, the current state of the complex makes it difficult to develop a sustainable wide-ranging and appealing retail offer with leading high street names.

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“This has an adverse impact on the health of the town centre and makes it less likely to attract visitors and revenue to the town. Given the strategic location of the complex and the importance of it to Nelson, as well as theborough of Pendle, unless it is redeveloped, the shopping centre is in danger of becoming a blockage to the successful and much-needed transformation of Nelson town centre.”

The report adds: “The proposed redevelopment of the shopping centre shall form the central component of the wider Town Centre Strategy set out in the Nelson Masterplan. The aim is to modernise and transform Nelson, so that it can better perform the role as the social, commercial and administrative hub of Pendle.”

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The council report says the freehold title to the town centre land is at present in the ownership of Future Properties (1st) Limited.

NEGOTIATIONS WITH SHOPPING MALL OWNER

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The report adds: “The council has been in touch with the freehold and leasehold owners of the land, with a view to obtaining ownership by voluntary means.

“Those with relevant interests shall be compensated in accordance with the statutory compensation code. Discussions are ongoing in respect of relocation arrangements for current tenants, with vacant town centresites being prioritised for relocation where possible. The council shall continue exploratory dialogue with the traders of Pendle Rise with a view to securing appropriate relocation arrangements.

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The council has not been able to make a formal offer to acquire the land because there has to date been a lack of relevant information that would be required to properly inform any professional valuation.

“The council has sought further information using the Local Government Act and is committed to pursuing any negotiations in good faith, until such a time as the order may be confirmed by the Secretary of State. Compulsory purchase powers are only to be exercised as a matter of last resort.

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“In seeking to purchase the land by agreement, the council shall offer sums which it considers to represent open market value together with additional sums that would be due and payable, if the order was already in place.”

In July, Future Properties told the Local Democracy Reporting Service it had completed the sale of the nearby former Pendle Rise multi-storey car park site to McDonald’s for a new drive-through restaurant.

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McDonald’s confirmed the sale was complete and building work is expected to start soon. The new restaurant could open later this year.

In recent few months, Future Properties has said it is willing to negotiate with Pendle Council about the potential sale of Pendle Rise. It says its valuation is fair and rejected the suggestion by one councillor that the price was unrealistic.

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Future Properties has also defended its record in attracting some new shops to the mall and, separately, in gaining some interest in office buildings which could become redeveloped as apartments. It also queried Pendle Council’s decision to close the mall’s Admiral’s Market Place indoor market hall back in spring 2021, which took some traders by surprise. The council had a long-term lease on the market hall, said Future Properties.

‘MEANINGFUL TRANSFORMATION’

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The Pendle Council report for this Thursday’s Policy & Resources meeting adds: “The proposed acquisition is central to securing wider town centre transformation. The strategic location of the shopping centre, together with the importance it has for the locality, means that it is simply not possible to secure meaningful and long-term transformation in Nelson town centre without addressing the issue of the failing shopping centre at Pendle Rise.

Councils have powers under Town and Country Planning Act to apply to buy property or land using compulsory purchase orders, if need be. They do this through the government’s Secretary of State. Pendle councillors are being asked to approve this next step at Thursday’s meeting.

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The report adds that the move would fulfil the terms of the £25million Nelson Town Deal, which is forecast to benefit 33,000 residents and create more than £40million worth of economic benefits, measured additional gross value added (GVA) . This sum includes an estimated £3.5million in labour supply impact, £23million is social return on investment and a £15million uplift in land values.

PENDLE COUNCIL JOINT VENTURES & PRIVATE PARTNERS

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Pendle Council is working with a number of private contractors, consultants and partners in a range of activities including land, property, masterplanning and economic regeneration.

Brookhouse Group Ltd was recommended earlier this year as a business partner for a new joint venture contract, lasting potentially up to 15 years, to carry out regeneration and development projects including the new Nelson Town Deal.

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Greater Manchester-based Brookhouse Group works with landowners, local councils and private developers across the UK. In this region, it has worked with councils in Oldham and Knowsley.

A new joint venture was needed by the council because an existing partnership, called PEARL2, is reaching its limits.

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Elsewhere, Pendle Council partners in projects and joint ventures include Barnfield Construction and Together Housing. The huge redevelopment of Brierfield Mill, now called Northlight, into apartments and offices is an example of other projects in Pendle at the moment.

Colne could see its indoor market hall revamped and redeveloped too, as reported in recent months,

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Pendle Council’s Policy & Resources Commitee meets at Nelson Town Hall on Thursday, August 25, at 7pm.