Trafford Council has been criticised for a “baffling” decision to abandon a search for a partner to redevelop the Graftons Centre shopping mall in Altrincham town centre.
The once-bustling shopping hub, formerly home to the likes of Music Zone Direct, Greggs and Rhode Island Coffee, has been closed for over four years.
The council – which bought the centre in 2018 as part of its investment strategy – had been seeking a development partner to create an “exciting mixed-use scheme”, but it has now ended that process “due to the economic and social impact” of Covid-19 and instead asked property firm CBRE to come up with an alternative plan.
Cllr James Wright, Trafford Council’s Executive member for Housing and Regeneration, said the decision had been taken because the procurement process for a development partner “had commenced in a different economic climate to the one we find ourselves in today”, and the council would now “focus solely on the future of the centre as we go forward”.
But the Conservative opposition said the investment in the centre could now prove to be a “disastrous return” that could “come home to roost sooner than anyone could have imagined”.
Cllr Dave Morgan, Shadow Executive Member at Trafford Council for Housing and Regeneration, said: “At a time of huge economic uncertainly, I am baffled as to why Trafford Council has again changed its plans for the Grafton Centre in Altrincham.
“The centre is a key part of the redevelopment jigsaw and for the council to again lose the respect and trust of potential redevelopment partners is quite shocking. Potential developers have had to redraw their proposals for how to develop the centre from being a development manager to joint venture role and now the Labour administration has put a stop to the whole process.
“I will also be asking the Council how much it is costing council tax payers for this abandoned joint venture procurement exercise.”