The REFURBISHMENT of a Shropshire shopping centre will be completed in time for Christmas, it has been revealed.

Gemma Davies, Shropshire Council’s head of economic growth, said the top level of Shrewsbury’s Darwin Centre is “doing well” and was kept well maintained before the council bought the centres for £51m in January 2018.

But she said the bottom two levels are in need of an upgrade and work will be completed in time for Christmas shopping this year.

She said: “It is such an exciting project for the council to be at the forefront of the future of retail.”

“It’s all about short, medium and long-term thinking.

“There have been some big losses on the high street so we are focusing on the here and now, but also the future.

“What is the experience we need to create? Town centres need to be about more than retail.”

She added: “The top level of the Darwin Centre is not too bad and has been well kept compared to lower levels.

“Investment will be used to bring the lower levels up to the same standard.”

Ms Davies said she is also aiming to make sure the best public toilets in Shrewsbury are located within the centre.

She said: “I want them to be the best toilets in Shrewsbury in a bid to drive footfall.

“I want them to be gold standard.”

She added that she believes the River Severn and The Quarry will both play major roles in the future redevelopment of the area.

She said: “Some 750,000 visitors come to The Quarry and that and the river will be central to the future plans we have for the centres.”

Ms Davies also had news on how certain stores had been performing, while also revealing the Darwin Centre had a nine per cent vacancy rate and Pride HIll about five per cent.

“Things are going well, JD Sports is performing very well indeed and we have had news that HMV is here to stay in Shrewsbury,” she said.

“New Look Men and Poundworld have gone however and that was a blow, but these are challenging times.

“I can’t pretend it’s easy to land some of these deals, but there is interest. Footfall in Shrewsbury is really good.

“It is bucking the trend.

“We are looking to develop a masterplan now for the riverside area and the North West Relief Road news last week was a big boost to that.