Councillors give go ahead to buy former Co-op in Stafford 


The rear view of the Coop

Senior councillors have given the green light for the borough council to buy the former Co-op department store in Stafford.

The large building on Gaolgate Street has been derelict for a decade and proposals could see it converted into a mix of retail, residential, market provision, and a food court as part of a major transformation of the area.

The council successfully secured more than £14 million from the government’s Future High Street Fund (FHSF) and last night (Thursday) Stafford Borough Council’s cabinet agreed to the purchase of the empty store.

The FHSF has already supported the restoration of the town’s Market Square which will be completed this month (October) and work to improve the approach and entrance to Stafford Railway Station - expected to get underway soon.

The council announced recently that the latest phase of their ambitious programme would be buying the former Co-op building as the catalyst to regenerate the town.

Councillor Rob Kenney, Deputy Leader, with a mandate to drive town centre regeneration, told the meeting last night: “The number one issue for residents in Stafford is the town centre and that is why we have put it at the top of our priority list.” 

He said their aim was to deliver a town centre fit for the County Town, that residents will be proud of, businesses will want to invest in, and visitors will come to shop, eat and drink, and socialise.

And he added: “We said we would listen to local people and get things done and this is only the start.” 

The meeting heard the Co-op project was only “one part of the jigsaw, that the building would be a “mixed use 21st century development” and alongside all the other initiatives would put “Stafford on the map.” 

Negotiations to buy some property in the town centre were made difficult because the Government announced how much money the local authority received from the FHSF, a report to the committee stated - and some ‘absentee’ owners of premises in the town had been in contact with the council asking ‘unreasonable’ prices for their buildings following that announcement.

Council leader, Aidan Godfrey, said: “Stafford town centre is changing and it is very exciting. I am really looking forward to sharing more information with the people of Stafford when we have more details.”

There is already significant investment being made in the county town with other projects underway or recently delivered such as the Staffordshire History Centre and the business hub at Shire Hall, which is reaching full capacity, and plans taking shape around the Stafford Station Gateway and Eastgate areas.

The report to cabinet is available from

Confidential discussions are still taking place around other changes to the town centre which will form part of the Future High Street Fund project.


Press Release 6072

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