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The end of a dream - shopping extension and store shelved

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: December 04, 2013

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A MAJOR department store has shelved plans to move to Burton after a shopping centre cancelled its decision to build an extension which could have created up to 200 jobs.

The Mail exclusively broke the news online yesterday after it was told that the £25 million Coopers Square shopping centre extension had been cancelled, meaning Debenhams will no longer open a store in the town.

However, the department store has not ruled out a future development in Burton and a spokesman said: “We unfortunately have no current plans to open a store in Burton after Coopers Square shopping centre cancelled plans to build an extension, however we are constantly reviewing our future opportunities.”

It comes as a disappointment to senior figures in the town, prompting a hard-hitting statement from East Staffordshire Borough Council (below).

Burton MP Andrew Griffiths said: “It is disappointing news that the prospects of Debenhams coming to town appear to be diminishing and now is the time for everyone to come together to see what can be done to attract that investment and major store to the town.

“We cannot just sit back and hope that the town will regenerate.”

Chris Plant, director of Burton & District Chamber, said: “It’s a blow to the chances of a shopping centre extension, and it’s a disappointment because it would have been an added attraction to have a new Debenhams.

“It was a good idea to try to get them in there. It was one of the best known names associated with the proposed Coopers Square extension. However, Burton will retain its vibrant shopping offer.”

Dave Chadfield, manager of Coopers Square, said while the original extension plans were no longer an option after Grosvenor Fund Management sold the site, the centre’s new owners, F&C Reit, were looking at new ‘aspirations’.

He said: “The new owners are looking at alternatives for the shopping centre.

“With the sale of the centre, the plans go out with it.

“They (the new owners) have new aspirations and are looking at different ways to develop the centre.

“It took five years for Grosvenor to draw up the original plans, so it will take time for the new owners.”

THE borough council is calling on the owners of Cooper’s Square to be more open with the authority after the news was revealed to them BY THE MAIL.

In a statement, the council adds Debenhams must have had plans to set up in Burton as it was announced to the stock market but the council says it is ‘incredibly disappointing’ that it was not told that this was no longer the case.

Here is the statement in full:

A spokesman for East Staffordshire Borough Council said: “It is incredibly disappointing that Debenhams have not informed the council of its intentions.

“In addition the council has not heard definitively from the owners of Coopers Square on the matter who had not written off the chances of Debenhams coming to Burton, as recently as the summer time.

“The stock market must also be confused given it was announced to the market that Debenhams had plans to open a store in Burton.

“We call on the new owners of Cooper Square to be more open with its plans for the shopping centre and explain why they are not proceeding with previously agreed proposals.”

TIMELINE

June 2011 – It is announced the Cooper’s Square will have a £25 million facelift, creating up to 200 jobs, eleven two-storey shops, a major department store and rooftop car park.Five businesses in Station Street — two estate agents, Retro nightclub, a dry cleaner and the Royal Bank of Scotland — would have to be relocated to make way for the extension.

July 2011 - more images released showing how the town centre could look as plans are officially submitted

January 2012 – Grosvenor Fund Management, owner of Cooper’s Square, puts the shopping centre on the market, putting extension into doubt

March 2012 – Asset management firm F & C Reit buys the shopping centre for £250 million

exploratory drilling has begun to conduct a thorough survey beneath the surface of the shopping centre’s car park

September 2013 – F & C Reit and Debenhams create a wall of silence when asked by the Mail if the extension has been shelved

Today – when asked by the Mail again, Debenhams says it is not able to come to Burton after Cooper’s Square shopping centre ‘cancelled’ its plans for an extension.

Read more from Burton Mail

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