Concerns over major purchase

Manor Walks shopping centre in Cramlington
Manor Walks shopping centre in Cramlington

The Labour administration at County Hall has come under fire from a local councillor over the purchase of Cramlington’s shopping and leisure hub.

It was recently announced that Arch – the development company wholly owned by No-rthumberland County Council – had exchanged contracts in order to buy Manor Walks Shopping Centre from Hammerson plc for £78million.

The property acquisition includes a range of key national retailers, a nine-screen multiplex cinema (let to VUE) with food operators, three office blocks, part-let to the authority and other occupiers, three car parks with a total of around 1,500 spaces and the former county council library building.

The Conservative group is concerned about what it believes is the lack of a detailed business plan for the site and one of its number, Cramlington North member Wayne Daley, said: “This is a bad decision and a bad business move.

“At the same time as commercial property portfolios are being suspended on the stock exchange following the collapse in the market, the council may have bought this site at sky high rates when the market is at rock bottom.”

County council leader Grant Davey said: “Arch has purchased the centre at market rates and this will form another piece in the investment jigsaw for Cramlington, which has seen over 120 council jobs located in Northumbria House, £3.5million investment in the town’s leisure centre and library and over 100 further council jobs located around the town.”