A council has been shortlisted for ‘Deal of the Year' by an industry magazine for its purchase of a shopping centre.

West Oxfordshire District Council's purchase of the shopping centre Marriotts Walk in Witney has been recognised in the Commercial Property (under £50m) category in the Property Week awards.

Councillor Duncan Enright, executive member for economic development said: “I am delighted that we have made the finals of these prestigious awards.

"The purchase of Marriotts Walk by the council has ensured that we have greater control over its future for the benefit of the town and the residents and visitors that use it."

Marriotts Walk was bought from the developers by a private investor in 2009 for a sum significantly in excess of £30million.

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It subsequently changed hands to a different institutional landlord which "didn’t have the interests of local people or the centre at heart", said the council.

Mr Enright said: “We bought the site at the right time, which ensured the best value for the council and residents.

"The embedding of Sports Direct into the old Debenhams site has instilled confidence in Witney and Marriotts Walk as an attractive location for retail and leisure operators and we are confident, with the regeneration of the site, that other retailers will follow with negotiations ongoing on all units.”

Local people and the council were frustrated at a lack of interest from the owners and the council suggested that the owners ought to consider a sale to the council as freeholder.

In 2022 the owners approached the council, and a deal was struck.

The council acquired the leasehold element and married the freehold and leasehold.

It paid £9.1million with a deal in progress to secure Sports Direct as an occupier for the former Debenhams unit.

The Property Week awards final will be held on July 3, where the council is shortlisted alongside four other finalists.