Council eyes purchase of Heathway Shopping Centre in bid to ‘bring it back to life’
PUBLISHED: 17:00 23 April 2020 | UPDATED: 14:04 24 April 2020
A shopping mall could be in for a “huge facelift” after town hall chiefs agreed to buy it.
Barking and Dagenham Council cabinet members voted in favour of purchasing Heathway Shopping Centre for an undisclosed sum at an online meeting on Tuesday, April 21.
Cllr Dominic Twomey said: “Everybody that’s been anywhere near the Heathway Shopping Centre recently will know that it really requires a huge facelift, to say the least.
“[The purchase allows] us to bring back to life what should be an important focal point in Dagenham.”
He added that what was more important was that by purchasing the site, Millard Terrace would benefit from regeneration with tenants suffering recurring repair problems.
The agreement comes after current owners, CIP Threadneedle UK Property, approached the council to buy the leasehold.
By purchasing the 1.3 hectare site, the local authority expects the centre to generate income while kick-starting redevelopment of an area where connections into London are “second to none”.
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Dagenham Heathway attracts footfall of 28,000 people per day, according to the council. When opened in 1988, Sainsbury’s occupied the main space, now taken up by Wilkinsons.
Other firms with stores there include Boots, Specsavers, JD Sports, Shoe Zone and Savers.
But a council report states that the centre’s 1970s design style generates anti-social behaviour which underpins a lack of investment in it.
The report’s authors warn the building will become “obsolete” in the near future while the lease still has 87 years left to run.
Councillors heard that it was difficult for anyone other than the council to want to get involved in redeveloping the site.
Barking and Dagenham owns Millard Terrace where 135 homes are occupied by council tenants and the rest were sold under right to buy.
Early plans for the centre show potential for 400 to 500 homes with the possibility of the redevelopment including neighbouring Lidl.
Cllr Twomey said that changing the management and operation of the centre would also be considered.
“Do nothing and it will just continue to be a relatively run down shopping centre that doesn’t really serve the needs of the all the communities in that area, which deserves better,” he added.
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