Market Walk extension is back on the agenda

Market Walk, Chorley.
Market Walk, Chorley.
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Plans to extend Chorley’s Market Walk shopping centre are back on the table.

Chorley Council, which bought the centre for £23m at the end of last year, will look at the idea again in the coming months.

The authority said it wanted to build on its initial success since the takeover of the precinct – which was put up for sale by London-based investment company Orchard Street Investments.

There is already interest being shown from ‘big name’ retailers.

It is keen to look at a number of options to see if the precinct can be improved to attract even more visitors.

Councillors agreed to look at what options are available to see if a flagship retailer can be attracted to the town.

Coun Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council, said: “We bought the shopping centre to give us a bigger influence over what happens in our town centre and that’s exactly what we are looking to do.

“We’ve already seen an increase in footfall and the centre is performing better than we had expected so now is the right time to see if there is a viable option to extend the mall to improve the offer in the town centre and create more income for the council that will help us to improve the services we offer to residents.

“We will look at all the possible options for extending the centre, taking into account things such as unit size and car parking, and see if there is a scheme that could work for the benefit of everyone.”

The authority has set aside £100,000 to look into the options with a view to putting in a planning application.

The centre, which gives the council £500,000 per year profit, is attracting tentative interest from big name retailers looking for larger units than the centre currently has.

“I know previous owners of the centre have looked into extending the mall and I’m sure some people will be feeling it’s a case of deja-vu and be thinking ‘here we go again’,” said Coun Bradley.

“It’s important to stress what we are doing is looking at what’s possible.

“I don’t want to make any empty promises that we will be extending Market Walk.

“What I would say is that we are very ambitious for Market Walk and we think there is a real potential to improve the offer in the town centre and do something that benefits the whole town.

“We’d be keen to hear what type of retailer people would like to see because we want residents to have an influence on any proposed development. Once we have got some firm proposals we will let people know so they can have a say on what we are looking to do.”

The next year will see big changes in the town centre with the former McDonald’s site re-opening, £1m investment into improving Market Street and the opening of the new Asda store at the Pall Mall triangle.