Town centre traders have given their approval to Chorley Council’s move to buy Market Walk shopping precinct.
Members of Chorley Traders’ Alliance welcomed the news, and said it would give the town complete control of the centre’s future.
Alliance chairman Malcolm Allen said: “We all know the future of retailing has changed and is changing.
“Large retailers are downsizing the number of outlets they have on the high street, which explains how the current and previous owners failed to attract interest from them for the second phase of Market Walk, as well as Asda’s promise and delays to start work on the Bolton Street site.
“This last 12 months has seen a rise in the number of shoppers from surrounding towns coming to town, first for the markets, and now on other days. They say they like the feel of Chorley because we have something their towns do not.
“The rise of the markets proves that people enjoy shopping in Chorley.
“We need all members of the council to put politics aside to continue to invest in the town centre to attract old and new residents – there have been 400 new homes each year in the last five years, and more being built now and in the future.
“The only way we can control our town centre is to have it in local hands and no outside investors.”
Market Walk’s owners, Orchard Street Investment Management, has put five UK shopping centres and retail parks – including Market Walk, which it bought from a fund managed by REEF in 2011 for £22.25m – up for sale at a total value of around £120m.
It currently has assets under management totalling £3bn.
The council revealed last week it is investigating the possibility of buying Market Walk.
An application for a single storey extension to the centre was approved earlier this year, and the owners have three years from this February to start work. However, they still have to submit some details for approval before they can start work.