The future of Aldershot’s Galleries shopping centre is up in the air again, with rumours circulating that some of the site could be turned into housing.
It comes after Henry Boot – appointed by Galleries owner Threadneedle in 2012 to revive the struggling centre – ceased working on the scheme earlier this year.
Adrian Schofield, South East regional manager at Henry Boot, had previously said the company was aiming to bring in a food and drink retailer, and said The Galleries could be refurbished to provide a range of units for potential businesses to move into.
Sources in the town understand that one option is now to transform a portion of the centre into residential use, although a spokesman for Threadneedle said the remaining strategy for the centre is still being reviewed.
Andrew Lloyd, chief executive of Rushmoor Borough Council, told the News & Mail last year he was disappointed by the lack of action on the centre, but added Thread-needle was doing a ‘lot of work’ to consider potential options for the site.
He said this week: “There is no further information on the site available now, but what we do know is the owners are currently doing a lot of work developing options for the site and we are looking forward to having a close dialogue with them over that.
“Options are being looked at and we are looking forward to a long-term solution for the site being funded.”
While the council has no direct influence over the shopping centre, members are keen for retailers to return and provide a boost to the town. The Galleries was built in the late-1990s but began to decline within a decade. By 2004 the units had started to empty amid concerns people were shopping elsewhere, prompting calls for investment to halt the decline.
In 2007 it was reported the shop units in The Galleries were vacant due to a master plan being drawn up to revitalise the site. However, in 2008, Threadneedle was urged to publicly disclose its intentions by concerned members of town centre groups. A spokesman for Threadneedle said this week: “We continue to review and discuss our strategy for The Galleries with Rushmoor Borough Council.
“We remain committed to ensuring the future viability of the scheme and, as part of this, we can confirm we are exploring potential alternative uses for the centre.”
Techstart, a scheme providing computers and internet access to people, was opened in the empty centre at the beginning of May after space was secured rent-free from Threadneedle.