A DISTRICT council could be forced to spend more than £100m on Castle Quay shopping centre in Banbury after the current developer pulled out.

The site is owned by Aberdeen Standard Investments, but it has announced plans to sell the building despite being due to start a £35m redevelopment.

Cherwell District Council, which already has a 15 per cent stake in Castle Quay, yesterday revealed they intend to buy the site and continue with the expansion.

Tony Ilott, Cabinet member for finance, said: “As a council and as community leaders we are committed to investing in the town centre and doing everything we can to create a thriving economy.

“The new development at Castle Quay has been highly anticipated and if not delivered would be a massive blow to residents and businesses.”

Council leader Barry Wood confirmed the authority plan to carry out the £35m expansion 'as is', which contains a hotel, seven-screen cinema and six restaurants. Businesses already signed up include Lidl, Nandos and Zizzi.

He said: “Frankly, I don’t think the extension would have been on the cards anymore if we had let this go to another investor.”

The councillor also denied there would be any cost to taxpayers, saying: “There will be no impact on council services and no rate increase for residents.”

An Aberdeen Standard Investments spokesman said:“Unfortunately Castle Quay no longer fits with the overall strategy of the specific property portfolio it is held in. We are delighted that the council are interested in buying the site and we are in constructive dialogue with them. We continue to believe that the development will offer significant benefits to the town.”

No figures have been released about the cost of Castle Quay but in 2003, investment company Scottish Widows bought the shopping centre for £100m.

Chris White, managing director of Banbury-based White Commercial property consultants, said: “It’s extremely difficult to find places to put money to make a profit so commercial property has recently become a popular option as the returns are relatively high.”

Lynn Pratt, Cabinet member for estates and economy, added: “If this goes through as planned, we will own valuable real estate in the centre of Banbury.”

Planning permission for the expansion, known as Castle Quay 2, was granted in October 2016, with work initially set to begin last month to meet an opening date of Christmas 2018.

If the scheme passes a vote by the full council on December 18, work is now anticipated to start in the spring with a new opening of winter 2019.