MORE than 1,400 residents responded to a consultation about the future of Prescot Shopping Centre and town centre.

In December 2022, Knowsley Council acquired Prescot Shopping centre to further its ambitious plans to regenerate and transform Prescot town centre.

When was the consultation held?

Earlier this year, the local authority carried out a consultation exercise to gather views on the future of Prescot Shopping Centre and the wider town centre. Knowsley Council says participation by the community was high and more than 1,400 completed surveys were received.

The council added it engaged with the local community, businesses, community groups and visitors to Prescot town centre. Surveys were available online and printed copies were available in Prescot library.

What did residents say?

In the findings, the council said many respondents felt frustrated that Prescot Shopping Centre had been "forgotten about" and was in such a poor condition.

It was added there was a consensus that the council did need to step in to prevent any further decline.

Many respondents commented that the shopping centre needs a "complete rethink" and suggested other uses, not just retail, such as community, leisure, entertainment, and family offers.

It was said "retail was one of the most common topics that was mentioned during the consultation exercise" and that "specifically, that a greater variety of retail facilities were needed". This ranged from independent and artisan traders, budget retailers, brands and “high end” offers as well as specific retail offers.

The council added that survey results showed a "strong theme of positivity around Prescot town centre" and people commented that they would like to see further regeneration activity continue.

St Helens Star: The Shakespeare North playhouseThe Shakespeare North playhouse (Image: Stock)

There were positive comments about Shakespeare North Playhouse, the public realm improvements, and works to the town’s historic buildings and the council reported that people commented that they would like to see a continuation of the investment in the town’s heritage.

There was a strong desire from respondents for more family and leisure uses in the town centre, with "suggestions for a bowling alley, a cinema, activities for younger children and families and a gym".

Shopping centre is 'key opportunity site'

Cllr Tony Brennan, Knowsley’s cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, said: "The successful regeneration of Prescot Town Centre is a priority for Knowsley Council.

"Prescot Shopping Centre is identified in the Prescot Town Centre Masterplan as the largest key opportunity site, but over the years and while in private ownerships, the shopping centre has declined in terms of occupancy levels, footfall, and overall physical condition.

"This decline reflects what is happening in most town centres across the country as retail behaviours change. But over the years there was little activity or investment by the previous owners to address this and evolve what the shopping centre has to offer.

"The Council’s acquisition of the shopping centre will do exactly this and will help to bring long term improvements and the chance to explore future investment and development opportunities beyond just retail.”

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Cllr Brennan added: “I would like to thank everyone who took the time to complete a survey and share their views about Prescot Shopping Centre and town centre with us.

“It was really encouraging to see that people are so positive about Prescot and that they recognise the investment and transformation of the town centre over recent years.

“We have really had to take a different approach to attract people into the town centre, and the new bars and restaurants, independent shops, public realm improvements, public transport investment and of course the Shakespeare North Playhouse have all helped to achieve this.

“We are now focussed on developing the shopping centre to complement and enhance what Prescot has to offer and to ensure that the town centre continues to thrive.”

What will Knowsley Council do next?

Cllr Brennan said: “Based on everything we know about the national retail picture and feedback from discussions with potential tenants, we can say with some certainty that it is unlikely that the shopping centre will ever be fully re-occupied by retailers.

"Feedback from the survey shows that people want us to have a 'complete rethink' about the shopping centre and how it is used.

"The council will now start to work on designs to establish a clear longer-term vision for the site. This is likely to focus on reconfiguration of the shopping centre to create investment and development opportunities, whilst working around the existing tenants we have in the shopping centre.”

  • Visit here for more about the consultation.