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Shaftesbury council plan to buy ex-Budgens store

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A bowling alley and ice-skating rink are two of the suggestions for the future use of the former Budgens supermarket in Shaftesbury made to Shaftesbury Town Council by members of the public .

The Bell Street store has been empty for almost two years after the company running it went into liquidation in February 2017. But the town council has now formed a special committee to look into the feasibility of making a bid for the freehold to turn it into a community facility run by a charitable company.

Among other suggestions for the store are a health and fitness suite on the upper floor with a mixture of retail shops on the ground floor.

The town council’s latest committee, launched 31 October, has until the end of November to make a bid for the property to the Bristol-based agents GVA. The agents want £1.5 million for the store but it is believed they would accept £1 million.

Deputy mayor Councillor Lester Taylor, introducing the meeting, said that the council would probably have to take out a commercial loan to buy the site so whatever happened there had to be financially sustainable. That meant tenants would have to pay a commercial rent.

Newly-elected chairman Jackie Upton-King, secretary of Shaftesbury Civic Society, told members that the committee had to have ‘a clear commercial focus’.

She said they had to be ‘clear and honest’ with people that some of the things people might like won’t happen unless they can be shown to be properly commercially viable.

If the council is successful in buying the site it is likely to be a year to 18 months before it is ready for occupation while a number of structural alterations are carried out. One option being considered is the complete demolition of the existing building and starting again.

Shaftesbury Town Council is to consider the committee’s plan at an emergency meeting on Tuesday (6 Nov). The meeting starts at 7pm and is open to the public.

• Jemma Ricketts, owner of Enchanted Plants in Shaftesbury, is the committee’s first vice-chairman.

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