Ian Middleton: ‘Councils shouldn’t play around with shopping centre investments’

Middleton, Ian

In recent years, local authorities have created something of a commercial property gold rush. 

Low-interest government loans have been used to buy offices and leisure facilities as well as shopping centres. So many billions of what is sometimes uncharitably described as ‘dumb money’ have now been sunk into these investments, it’s believed in some cases to have skewed property values in certain sectors.

As part of this boom, Cherwell District Council, of which I’m a member, bought the struggling Castle Quay shopping centre in Banbury in December 2017. 

The timing really couldn’t have been worse with anchor store BHS already shuttered and other big operators M&S and Debenhams showing signs of stress, but they were undeterred. 

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