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Future is bright for town shopping site

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: May 22, 2014

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IT took a matter of minutes before Mail readers flocked online to post their thoughts on the sale of The Octagon shopping centre.

‘We want a big name shop’, ‘how about free parking’ and ‘it needs a total refurbishment’ were just some of the suggestions from shoppers to new owners Vixcroft, who paid more than £20 million for the site in a deal exclusively revealed in the Mail.

The surge of interest will be welcomed by the new owners as they prepare to take on the task of trying to turn around the fortunes of the town’s second largest shopping centre.

A closer look at the past projects of the real estate developer shows the future is bright for The Octagon.

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Chief executive Daniel Carter spoke to the Mail about the firm’s past and how it would influence their work in the town.

He said: “Vixcroft is a buy-out from the Arrowcroft Group, where I and the team worked for many years.

“At Arrowcroft, we were responsible, among many projects, for the transformation of the Lower Precinct, in Coventry, into an award-winning retail destination.

“That was a conservation-led project, preserving the Festival of Britain era architecture that English Heritage proposed to list Grade I.

“Another project for which the team is known is the regeneration of Liverpool’s formerly derelict Albert Dock into an acclaimed mixed use estate, now designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.”

Now, the developer is turning its attention to Burton and regenerating The Octagon to make it the ‘number one shopping destination in Burton’.

Mr Carter added: “Our plan is to invest in improvements to The Octagon which will enhance the appeal and vitality of the town centre to local people.

“Our first step will be to talk to current and potential occupiers and to other stakeholders, particularly the council chiefs, to tailor our plans to their requirements.”

The new owners have purchased the site at a time when change could help rejuvenate the centre.

The Octagon first opened its doors in 1990 to great fanfare and has been a fixture on the Burton shopping scene ever since.

It is most famous for being the site of the very first Poundland store in the country after founders were so impressed with the location on offer.

The centre, like others up and down the country, has seen many brands and stores come and go over the years.

Its biggest blow was when high street giant Beatties decided to pull out of the centre in 2012.

The massive two-storey space left by the retailer was snapped up within months after bosses at Poundland decided to move into bigger premises and, in the process, signing a 10-year lease and committing its future to The Octagon.

The centre has also attracted the likes of takeaway giant Subway, as well as becoming the new home of Burton’s indoor market.

The site could have had a much different look if a major facelift and expansion had been carried out after being approved in 2010. The proposals would have seen the extension of the ground and first floor alongside new glass entrances and shop fronts.

It is not yet known what the new owners plan to do with The Octagon.

However, they have now made a commitment to revitalise the centre and help put the town on the map for its shopping experience.

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