The redevelopment of Botany Bay will have an impact on Chorley town centre - but nobody knows whether it will be positive or negative.
That is the view of Chorley Council leader Alistair Bradley, who told councillors that he was more concerned about the potential effect of the currently stalled retail development at Cuerden.
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A designer outlet village is due to be built on the site of the Botany Bay shopping mill, which closed last month. Meanwhile, plans for the Cuerden site were thrown into doubt last year after furniture retailer IKEA backed out of the scheme.
“In principle, the new Botany Bay shouldn’t have an impact, because it’s supposed to be of a different offer [to Chorley town centre] - but in reality it will,” Cllr Bradley said.
“Whether it’s a good or bad impact, remains to be seen. But it’s not due to come forward particularly quickly, so we have an opportunity to get our town centre set up the way we want it for as far ahead as we can see.
“I’m more concerned about Cuerden, because at least we know what Botany Bay is going to look like - nobody knows what Cuerden will look like,” he told members of Chorley Council’s liaison committee.
The meeting heard that the town centre had already attracted some former tenants from Botany Bay into vacant units.
Meanwhile, councillors were told that the “perception” of a growth in the number of empty shops in Chorley was incorrect.
“We’re actually well ahead of the curve nationally,” Chris Moister, the authority’s head of legal said.
“We’re trying to work with owners of vacant properties and provide more council support and we’ve also contacted commercial agents to put them in contact with some of the vacant store owners and enable them to bring in new tenants,” he added.
Councillors heard that several units had become vacant in a short period of time, but that rent was still being on some of them, meaning they were not available for new tenants to move in.
Cllr Bradley said that, like all town centres, Chorley is shrinking - but less than many others.
“Town centres are becoming more residential. We’re not unique, but we’re stemming the tide a bit in Chorley.
“However, we’ve got to accept the fact that our town centre is going to change over the coming years - and we’ve got to work with it rather than go against it,” Cllr Bradley added.