Place strategy

North West Square | Bury and Bruntwood Ink Mill Gate Joint Venture

The Mill Gate site covers 15 acres. Credit: Google Earth

Dan Whelan

The council has been given the green light to acquire the mall from InfraRed Capital, paving the way for its redevelopment.

The Cabinet of Bury Council met last night to approve the acquisition of the 15-acre Mill Gate Estate for an undisclosed sum, funded by a loan from the Public Works Loan Board.

The firm has also agreed to enter into a joint venture with Bruntwood, creating a development vehicle that will overhaul the downtown shopping complex.

Bruntwood is working on a similar project with Trafford Council, where the developer is leading the transformation of the Stretford shopping centre.

Preliminary plans for Mill Gate include “opportunities to consolidate and diversify Mill Gate’s current commercial offering, with the addition of new residential, leisure, serviced office and food and beverage uses”, according to advice.

All retailers who wish to remain at Mill Gate and who have a viable business will be considered. The mall will remain operational throughout each phase of development, the council confirmed.

The Mill Gate scheme is part of a wider town center redevelopment strategy which was approved earlier this month.

Other elements of the master plan include:

  • A new Bury Market flexi hall
  • A new center for health innovation and related technologies at Bury College
  • A hotel on the site of the former fire station
  • Phase 2 of the Chamberhall industrial site.

Bury’s acquisition of Mill Gate follows InfraRed’s decision to divest its stake and fears that – if the council did not step in to buy the center – “there is a risk that it will be acquired by an investor to income that will potentially extract surpluses from the center for short-term gain rather than investing in the estate,” a firm report said.

This would make regeneration opportunities “significantly more difficult, if not impossible to realize”, the report adds.

InfraRed bought Mill Gate from Aberdeen Asset Management in 2014 for £52 million. Since then, a further £20 million has been invested in the complex.

Elsewhere in Bury, the council has entered into a joint venture with Muse Developments for the revamp of the Longfield Center in Prestwich.