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Buy Low, Sell High: Stockport Grabs A Little More Of Merseyway

Merseyway, with rain threatening...

Stockport Council has taken another step toward rethinking the town's 340K SF Merseyway shopping centre, and it has chosen a fine moment to do it.

The council is close to acquiring the 43K SF former BHS department store, a key part of the town centre's property jigsaw, as investor interest in shopping centres plunges.

Shopping centre investment fell through the floor in the first quarter of 2019, dropping by 90% compared to the first three months of 2018. Radius Data Exchange figures showed that just £37M was spent on shopping centres, Estates Gazette reported.

Merseyway was among the first wave of UK shopping centres, opened in 1965, and was also one of the first to hit serious trouble as retail habits changed. The centre was placed into receivership in 2009 and eventually sold to Stockport Council in 2016. The council promised a £35M refurbishment programme.

It secured an option to purchase the BHS store, now occupied by Poundland, and the adjacent 18-20 Merseyway, which is currently let to Optical Express, and the freehold interest of 14-16 Merseyway. The option expired in February but will now be extended until June to allow the council to complete its approvals process, a report to councillors said.

"The building currently presents a poor amenity to Merseyway and further, contributes to poor perceptions of the centre. The building is in a poor physical condition and looks dated and scruffy," the report said.