In the Summer of 2017, Walsall Council’s Cabinet took the innovative step of recommending to full Council that the Authority purchase the town’s Saddlers Centre shopping mall. This bold move met with a mixed reaction at the time and since then, there has been much speculation as to the success, or otherwise, of the acquisition.
Councillor Sean Coughlan, Leader of Walsall Council said:
“The rationale behind our purchase of the Centre was to benefit from the rental income on the units within the Centre, but also to give ourselves a strong foothold in regenerating the retail offer in the town centre. I’m really pleased to confirm that we have been successful on both fronts.”
“People will naturally be interested in the money side of things of course and I hope they’ll be reassured that, in just the first seven months of our ownership of the site, the forecasted revenue profit is £506,000, net of interest costs. This is the equivalent to half a percent on the council tax. We can provide some really valued local services with that kind of money, which is the equivalent of around 20 street cleansing staff, filling approximately 10,000 potholes or waste collection for 15,000 households.”
Since September, renewals of four short term leases have been agreed and documented and a rent review has been agreed on one unit at an increased rental level. Added to this, terms have been agreed for a long-term lease to a food operator to further develop the food hub.
Councillor Coughlan said:
“Whilst I’m more than happy to give residents the reassuring news about income to the council, we are negotiating in a competitive market and I do not intend to release commercially sensitive financial information which could prejudice the council’s interests in the future.”
In the short time that Walsall Council has owned the Saddlers Centre, work has been ongoing to not only better understand its day-to-day operations, but also to increase its value by exploring potential capital investments and securing new and renewed leases.
The acquisition of the Saddlers Centre is part of Walsall Council’s ongoing regeneration plans for Walsall Town Centre.
Councillor Coughlan added:
“As part of our wider plans, we are also looking to improve the profile of the ‘Walsall Transport Hub’ – the rail station and Bradford Place Bus Interchange – to make the visitor experience to the town centre even better.”