The centre offers around 320,000 sq ft of space. Credit: St Modwen

Evolve lines up Billingham retail

Owner St Modwen has exchanged contracts with Evolve Estates for the sale of Billingham town centre, Place North East understands.

In a deal expected to complete in the New Year, St Modwen will sell the 320,000 sq ft shopping centre to Evolve Estates, part of the privately owned M Core retail investment group, which has been active in the region this year.

Earlier in November M Core bought the Harrier portfolio of eight retail asserts, including Darlington’s Meynell Road Retail Park, following hot on the heels of Evolve picking up the Viking Centre in Jarrow.

Agents on the scheme are Connect Property and Colliers International.

At present, around 20 retailers are listed on the Billingham town centre’s online list of traders, including Iceland, Boots, B&M and Asda.

However, the town centre is being lined up for a major overhaul. One of the big North East winners in the Levelling Up Fund third round allocations was Stockton-on-Tees Council, which landed £20m.

As this was the third time Stockton had bid with the express purpose of putting the money to work in Billingham, the local authority can reasonably be assumed to be keen to work closely with the retail pitch’s new owner in improving the town centre.

St Modwen bought Billingham town centre for £14.25m in 2014 from a subsidiary of Stockland, which in 2007 had bought the council’s retail holdings in the town for around £16.7m.

Elsewhere in the area, Hartlepool Development Corporation is advancing plans to buy the long leasehold on that town’s Middleton Grange shopping centre, allowing it to take control of the town’s direction – a strategy that has become well used in a tough retail landscape.

Evolve and St Modwen were approached for comment.

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As a business owner in Billingham Town centre why haven’t we been told anything about this.

By Anonymous

SBC were looking to buy the centre and were awaiting the outcome of the levelling up bid as that was the only way that Billingham could be developed to the standard we as Billingham Labour Group of Councillors desired. Seems strange that the centre was bought,signed, sealed and delivered around the time the Levelling Up Fund was announced. I do not mind £20 million of public money going into private hands as it seems. Two caveats. Firstly the developers match fund with £20 million and the wishes within reason are followed. To often private developers put profits before people. Let’s hope they contact us sooner rather than later. To be successful they need to take the Billingham people with them.

By Barry Woodhouse

Seeing is believing I’ve lived in billingham for nearly 65 years, and hardly go to the town centre now, there’s so many empty shops, I wish we could turn back the clock when it was a lovely place to go

By Kathleen Cross

Good News at last, we knew that Billingham town centre needed investment, hopefully this is now going to happen. Billingham town was once a thriving centre, we had Good quality shops M&Co is a Good example.I know that time has moved on but we need quality shops, reduced rents, units full and a good clean up of the town. We need a town that people want to come to, to enjoy thereby bringing money to the town.I have lived in Billingham for over 20 years and have unfortunately seen it decline, people say that the heart has gone and they are shopping elsewhere which is a sad reflection on todays Billingham. The town centre can thrive and I’m sure it will in time, if local people of all ages were involved and listened to their I feel this could be a step in the right direction. We were once proud of Billingham, we want and need to be proud of it again. Thankyou.

By John Bluett

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