Maghull Square Shopping Centre – It’s not well thought of!

I got involved in some Facebook exchanges yesterday with folks who are concerned about the state of Maghull’s Shopping Centre, at least that part of it to the north of Westway.

This is Maghull Square in the 1970's but the buildings are as was. It was built in the 1960's. Photographer unknown.

This is Maghull Square in the 1970’s but the buildings are as was. It was built in the 1960’s. Photographer unknown.

It certainly is run down now despite the valiant efforts of the Maghull in Bloom volunteers whom Sheila and I have recently joined.

I suppose there are two major issues – the quality and diversity of the shops and the condition of buildings and car parks.

Around the back of the ‘Square’ and the rear of the shops along Westway the car parks are rutted and the backs of the shop units look very neglected. What’s more the flats above the shops (which are accessed from the rear car parks) are let out and those living in them deserve a better outlook and much improved maintenance.

The previous owners (The Maghull Group) did have plans for major refurbishments and rebuilding and I recall that they got planning permission for that work. Trouble is they then ran into the recession caused by our dodgy bankers and politicians who spent more than we had. So, no progress was made despite great optimism at the time the upgrading was being promoted a few years ago.

Now things have deteriorated further and the property has been sold on. The challenge for the new owners is to breath some life into the Square before it slides any further. That may not be an easy task but it is certainly becoming an urgent one.

The new managing agents are London and Cambridge Properties. They also have a big property interest the other side of the shopping centre south of Westway (the more modern ‘Morrisons’ side) so it would seem to be in their interests to get the whole of it pointing in the right direction sooner than later so to speak.

Maghull – Shopping Centre does have new owners!

Maghull Square

My posting of 15th April 2015 refers:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/04/15/maghull-what-news-of-the-long-promised-and-talked-about-town-centre-redevelopment/

Well it must have been about 2 months ago that I was first asked, by a Champion newspaper reporter, whether I could corroborate rumours that were doing the rounds about the Maghull Group company selling Maghull Square Shopping Centre to another owner.

I could not confirm one way or the other but I did ask a man who should have known. The answer I got was no it had not been sold, but it certainly has now.

My information is that London and Cambridge Properties has bought Maghull Square and this now means that they own the whole of Maghull’s shopping centre. They have owned the half of it south of Westway for a long time, now they have it all.

What will this mean? Investment? New retailers? A refresh for this desperately tired looking 1960’s concrete shopping centre? All of these I hope. And what of Maghull in Bloom’s excellent work to brighten up the shopping centre in recent years. How will that be affected? We must hope for a good relationship with the new owners to take Maghull forward.

Maghull – What news of the long promised and talked about town centre redevelopment?

Well this one has been doing the rounds for years but little has actually happened.

There are two possibilities in the offing one to the north of Westway and one to the south of it.

The northern redevelopment would be in Maghull Square that rather too 1960’s shopping area owned by the Maghull Group. They laid out plans quite a few years ago to give it a facelift and potentially to demolition and rebuild the shop units at the back of the Square. Trouble is the recession intervened and no progress has been made at all. How will the Maghull Group move things on?

The southern redevelopment has gone though so many alternatives and rumours of alternatives that anyone could be forgiven for wondering what if anything will ever happen. Will Morrisons enlarge their too small store or have they given up? Will the NHS deliver the long promised but now seldom talked rebuild of Maghull Health Centre? Remember it was to have an NHS Walk-In facility and the rebuild was supposedly funded/approved at one point a few years back. Are the powers that be in the NHS conveniently forgetting about the assurances that were made by Sefton Primary Care Trust and before them South Sefton Primary Care Trust?

The former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and old Maghull Library stand ripe for redevelopment in the heart of Maghull. Click on this photo to enlarge it.

The former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and old Maghull Library stand ripe for redevelopment in the heart of Maghull. Click on this photo to enlarge it.

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The land for the southern redevelopment is certainly available with the shells of the old Maghull Library and former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre sitting there awaiting a bid with Sefton Council desperate to sell both to raise some much needed cash. But we also know that the Police want to shut Maghull Police Station so they can move their Neighbourhood Bobbies into a shop unit or something along those lines. The Police land is huge so with the land that Sefton Council owns the opportunities are both real and significant. But what will break the deadlock? London and Cambridge Properties are the other major land owners in between the Council and Police land holdings.

Maghull Police Station - Down to become disused soon according to Merseyside's Labour Crime and Policing Commissioner.

Maghull Police Station – Down to become disused soon according to Merseyside’s Labour Crime and Policing Commissioner.

Were the rumours that Aldi wanted to buy land off the Council correct? You could credibly see Aldi wanting to make such a move as their nearest stores are quite some distance away by the Park Hotel in Netherton, Thornton and in Ormskirk.

I have said before that Morrisons could get caught on the back foot if they are not careful. They need a bigger and better designed store and car park but can they afford to invest/pay more rent? Has anyone ever seen a supermarket car park as badly designed as the one at Morrisons in Maghull? Aldi could well be a big threat to Morrisons if they finally pitch in on a site next door to them.

Things have got to move soon surely!

The photo of the old library and Stafford Moreton Youth Centre is amongst my Flickr shots at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Maghull – Morrisons/Health Centre/Old Library/Former Youth Centre – What’s going on?

Ever since Morrisons took over their Maghull store from the former Somerfield there has been talk of the store needing to be enlarged. It is clearly far too small.

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At one point a complicated but positive plan was put together involving the NHS who own the adjoining Health Centre, London and Cambridge Properties who own the land on which Morrisons sits (together with the other shops on the southern side of Westway) and the associated car park. The plan also included land that Sefton Council owned and in fact still owns. The land in question being that of the former Maghull Library (which moved to Meadows Leisure Centre in 2010) and that of the former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre.

rsz_maghull_health_centre

The plan was to redevelop the Health Centre which the NHS had authorised at a high level I was told by senior NHS and Sefton Council officers. Sadly, the NHS then backed out, why has never really been explained and Maghull residents with longish memories will recall us Lib Dems pressing at every turn for the new Health Centre to have an NHS Walk-In facility within it. Our contention is that Sefton Primary Care Trust (now abolished under NHS reorganisation) had undertaken to do all it could to provide an NHS Walk-In facility in Maghull after the one at Litherland Town Hall had opened. Of course it has never happened but then again the building it was supposed to be in was never rebuilt. Maghull and district residents have every right to feel aggrieved about this as Litherland Town Hall NHS Walk-In Centre is simply not accessible from the East Parishes part of Sefton Borough by public transport.

The closed Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and the old Maghull Library

The closed Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and the old Maghull Library

So the NHS element of the plan went west so to speak, but what of the rest of it. Surely Morrisions still needed a bigger Maghull store? Surely cash-strapped Sefton still wanted to dispose of the land it owned to bring some money in? Well you would have thought so in both cases but nothing has happened and all this has been going on for years and years. Indeed, it costs Sefton Council money each year to keep its two old buildings secure and safe.

Does it all come down to London and Cambridge Properties and Morrisons? What is the problem? Maghull & District needs a better range of food retailers. Just think about it in terms of the major UK food retailers (I appreciate that there are a number of excellent local convenience stores) this is all that there are in the East Parishes:-

Lydiate – None at all!
Maghull – A small Morrisons, Lidl, Iceland, a small Co-op
Aintree Village – A Tesco Metro, an M&S Food and a huge ASDA
Melling – None at all!

I was told quite some time ago that Aldi were actively looking for a site in Maghull and my strong suspicion was that they were looking at the old library/youth club site, but so far that has seemingly come to nothing.

What strikes me is that if Morrisons does not make a decisive move and sort out their long-term future in Maghull they are likely to end up with a competitor right on their doorstep as surely Sefton Council will not sit on its land for ever.

By the way I have written to Morrison twice asking them where their planning is up to but answers comes there none so far.

But could there be an other option on the table – one that has been the subject of considerable rumour in recent times? Read my posting next Wednesday involving the ‘The Old Bill’.

Animals in Need, Melling – An update

The struggle of this animal charity to keep a pitch for their fund-raising stall in Maghull’s shopping centre seems to be drawing support from far and wide.

I have had e-mails from residents asking me to do all I can to help the charity and of course I will do that.

I await a detailed response from Sefton Council which seems have refused to issue a street trader license to the charity for a pitch on public land. The charity had always pitched their stall on land which presently is in the ownership of a the company (Maghull Group) that owns the shopping centre buildings on the northern side of Westway but it has been asked to move on by the owner.

The obvious alternative site would be on a part of the land in the shopping centre that is under the ownership/control of Sefton Borough Council but I am told that the Council has refused to allow this and I need to get to the bottom of why the Council has refused. I am told that the Council’s initial view was that it would agree to the charity using public land but that it then changed its mind.

As a further alternative I have put the charity in touch with the other major land owner in the shopping centre (London and Cambridge Properties) to see if they can offer a site for the fund-raising stalls that have become such a feature of Maghull over the last 15+ years.

More news when I get it.