Garden Square Shopping Centre in Letchworth to have new owners

Garden Square Shopping Centre in Letchworth GC

Garden Square Shopping Centre in Letchworth GC - Credit: Archant

A SHOPPING centre based in the heart of a town is set to be taken over by new owners.

Praxis Holdings Limited is in the final stages of completing the deal for The Garden Square Shopping Centre, situated in Letchworth GC, which was put on the market in July last year.

Colin Bell, Garden Square Shopping Centre manager, said: “It is a done deal and the new owners will bring a fresh pair of eyes to the shopping centre with a fresh investment and fresh ideas, something that is needed for the shopping centre and the town.”

The Commerce Way and Central Approach centre has 39 retail units – including high street chains Argos, Boots, Costa Coffee, Iceland, New Look, Superdrug and The Body Shop – but currently has seven vacant units.

Clinton Cards closed down in July last year although a Boots Opticians opened in the same month in a vacant store opposite.

Letchworth town centre manager Lee Boswell said: “Praxis Holdings have experience in shopping centre management and will inevitably bring considerable further investment into the town centre.

“Alongside the investment we’re seeing from other stakeholders in the town, this is a sure sign that Letchworth’s future is bright.”

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The Comet asked shoppers and business owners in the Garden Square Shopping Centre what they would like to see happen now.

Mike Newman, director of Arena Stationers, said: “We need more men’s fashion shops and I hope the new company will look to improve the mix of shops that we have currently without cannibalising the shops that are already here.”

Richard Rippingham, 31, who manages Timpsons, said: “I would like to see cheaper or free parking for tenants. At the moment I pay £3.50 a day to park my car and I would like to see more of the empty shops filled.

“It would be great if we could have big brand names because at the moment we just have bargain shops and takeaways.”

Shopper Hilary Gascoigne, 47, from Letchworth GC, said she’d welcome an anchor store.

She added: “It would be nice to see a department store like a John Lewis here, there is nothing to come into Letchworth for.

“It was a shame that the M&S closed down, we need big names to increase the footfall. We have far too many charity shops. The shopping centre also needs to be spruced up to make it look attractive.”

On its sale, a pokesman for Tyburn Vale Letchworth Limited Partnership, previous owners of the centre, said: “The shopping centre is no longer the right investment for our clients. There have been extremely challenging times both due to the declining economy, the banking crisis and the retail economy.”

The Comet tried to reach Praxis, but at the time of going to press it had not responded to calls.