Council on brink of buying Green Lanes Shopping Centre in Barnstaple

Councillors and officers from North Devon Council outside Green Lanes Shopping Centre in Barnstaple

Councillors and officers from North Devon Council outside Green Lanes Shopping Centre in Barnstaple - Credit: NDC

North Devon Council has announced it has bought Green Lanes Shopping Centre in Barnstaple. 

The figure paid for the shopping centre has not yet been revealed but the council has released details on its vision for the centre and what role it hopes the centre will play in the future. 

The sale will be funded through the Public Works Loans Board which offers favourable interest rates on loans for local government projects. 

Revenue income from the shopping centre’s shops and car park income will pay for the loan costs and any surplus funds will be re-invested back into the centre and other regeneration projects in the area. The council is hoping the purchase will help it become more ‘financially self-sufficient'. 

A council spokesperson outlined the commercial vision for the centre at a press conference on Thursday evening: “To become an enterprising and commercially focused council which staff are proud to work for and which others want to work with. We will use our assets, skills and infrastructure to shape and improve public services and enable economic growth in the district.  

“We shall generate significant levels of new income for the council working towards the objective of enabling it to become financially sustainable by 2023/24. 

“We will restore and strengthen Barnstaple’s status as the heart of civic, commercial, educational, cultural and community life in North Devon in the mid 21st century. It needs to be resilient in the face of the challenges presented by the digital economy and the attractions of competing locations.  

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“We will establish a sustainable core of high-quality retail at the heart of the town, and encourage diversification by regenerating and repurposing what are now struggling secondary locations.” 

Barnstaple High Street

Barnstaple High Street - Credit: NDC

The leader of the North Devon Council, David Worden, said: “I’m thrilled to have been given this once in a lifetime opportunity to take on the running of such an important asset. Green Lanes is such a huge part of our town centre. With retail struggling following Covid, we want to future-proof the town centre and make it more of a ‘destination’ that will draw more people in.”   

The council says it is already working hard on attracting new tenants to the centre’s vacant units. 

The authority is confident it can provide opportunities for local and national companies to set up retail businesses in Barnstaple and will also be exploring alternative uses that complement the existing setup. 

The Property and Regeneration Teams at North Devon Council will be taking an active role in the strategic management of Green Lanes. The centre manager, Craig Bulley, and his team will remain in place to support the centre’s tenants and shoppers. 

The council will be supported by a specialist property management and investment company called Praxis. 

Praxis manages their own portfolio as well as assets for another local authority. They manage a number of shopping centres throughout the UK which are similar in size and context to Green Lanes. 

Over the coming weeks, council officers, Praxis and the centre management team will to the current tenants to fully inform them of the council’s commitment to the centre and advise them on points of contact as the council take ownership of Green Lanes. 

Lead member for Commercialisation councillor Ian Roome said: “This is a really bold move that demonstrates that we are serious about making investments that don’t just help us survive as an authority but also provide benefits for the local community. 

“I’m proud that this council is willing to make brave, commercial decisions that is a new concept to a lot of us but shows how dynamic and agile we have become in the face of budget cuts.” 

Lead member for Economy and Regeneration councillor Malcolm Prowse said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for us to really take control of our town centre. 

“It will perfectly complement the Future High Streets project and the two schemes together will bring such a huge boost to the town and help us shape it around what our community needs.”

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