PLANS for Bury Council to regenerate Prestwich centre by the acquisition of the Longfield Shopping Centre have progressed further.

In March, the council outlined their intention to purchase the shopping centre before working with a private sector partner to redevelop the central precinct.

Officers at the council have now finalised documentation in respect of the acquisition.

In a report to the cabinet the council said a full engagement exercise will take place with the current tenants of the shopping centre.

The council has reaffirmed its intention to negotiate a development partnership with private sector company Muse to deliver what they describe as ‘the Prestwich Village Regeneration project’.

The council will also appoint a property manager to manage the centre on an interim basis pending the development of the site.

In the report, council leader Cllr Eamonn O’Brien, said: “The Longfield Centre occupies a hugely prominent, central section at the heart of Prestwich.

“The regeneration of Prestwich village is an opportunity to deliver much needed new homes, facilitate growth through high quality commercial spaces, and embed a new cultural offering within new public buildings, while also providing an opportunity to deliver operational savings for the council by consolidating buildings and service delivery with wider public estate functions across the town.

“By entering a partnership with Muse, an experienced developer, the council (is) able to exert control and influence over the redevelopment of the Longfield Centre, whilst benefiting from Muse’s extensive development expertise without the need for an expensive and lengthy procurement exercise.”

The council said it is now looking to develop terms with Muse for the joint venture and expect the work to take approximately six months.

Cllr O’Brien, added: “The acquisition of the Longfield shopping centre is the first step in a key strategic acquisition in achieving the ambitions of the council in regard to the regeneration of Prestwich town centre.

“To deliver such regeneration and truly achieve the vision for Prestwich, The Longfield must form an integral component of any redevelopment plans.”

Early plans for such a centre include new homes, a library and community hub, small business workspace, outdoor space and a market hall.

The report added that the acquisition of the centre from Hollins Murray Group (Prestwich) would be subject to the detailed terms of the transaction and a best value report being submitted to cabinet for approval before the end of June 2021.