THE ailing Castle Place shopping centre in Wiltshire’s county town, Trowbridge, has been put up for sale again for the third time this year.

The centre in Market Street has been listed for sale in an online public auction on Wednesday, December 13 by commercial property auctioneers Acuitus.

The guide price has been raised by £50,000 to £450,000 and Castle Place is described as a substantial 70,469 sq. ft. centre as having “development potential”.

Wiltshire Times: Castle Place shopping centre has lost key tenants, including Wilko's, Shaws the Draper, Mainlys hardware store, SK Fruit & Veg, and McColl's convenience store. Photo: Trevor PorterCastle Place shopping centre has lost key tenants, including Wilko's, Shaws the Draper, Mainlys hardware store, SK Fruit & Veg, and McColl's convenience store. Photo: Trevor Porter (Image: Trevor Porter)

Donna Stephens, who has managed the centre for the past seven years, declined to comment on the prospective sale.

It is generally acknowledged that Castle Place is in need of significant investment and new tenants to make it more attractive to shoppers.

Its prospects are in marked contrast to The Shires shopping centre nearby which claims it will likely be fully occupied by early next year.

The Shires manager Sarah Moore said: “We are feeling very positive and quietly confident and will probably be fully tenanted by the end of the first quarter of next year.”

New tenants include the medical research charity DEBRA UK, which is taking Unit 1 in Fore Street, and the return of the Legends tailor who has taken the front kiosk by the Fore Street entrance.

SK Fruit & Veg has taken a stall outside Iceland, while Calendar Club has taken a stall outside JD Sports until the new year.

In the Spring, Greggs is expected to relocate from Unit 38 to the much larger Unit 27 next to Superdrug.

Mrs Moore is not yet able to confirm tenancy details for the former Sports Direct unit and the old Game unit, both of which are under offer.

In contrast, the number of shoppers visiting the Castle Place shopping centre has fallen dramatically since the closure of Wilko’s and Shaws the Draper earlier this year.

The centre is listed as Lot 16 in the Acuitus auction after being put up for sale by fund manager Nexus Properties Ltd when negotiations fell through with two previous would-be buyers.

Castle Place was initially sold for around £1.2 million prior to an online auction on May 18 after attracting interest from more than 100 parties.

It went for around three times its guide price of £400,000 to local developer David Campbell, of Belgravia 17 Investments Ltd, who failed to complete the purchase.

Castle Place was listed for sale by Acuitus at £400,000 for the second time on September 21 and was again withdrawn prior to the auction taking place.

Now it has been confirmed that the freehold has again been placed for sale as an investment opportunity with development potential.

Acuitus says: “The current gross income is approximately £241,081 per annum. A full tenancy schedule will be available to view within the solicitor's legal pack. The current owner has recently undertaken substantial roof repairs.”

Sitting on a prominent 1.73-acre site on Market Street, Castle Place is managed by APAM UK Ltd which said: "We do not comment on private transactions."

Surviving tenants have been unsettled by delays in the sale being completed and by large store closures in recent months, including Wilko’s, Shaws the Drapers, Mainlys hardware store, SK Fruit & Veg and a McColl’s convenience shop.

The 70,469 square feet (6,546 square metres) centre was built in 1974 and has 475 car parking spaces, as well as a market hall.

It occupies a prominent and strategic town centre location linking Market Street to St Stephen’s Place Leisure Park and is ripe for redevelopment potential.

Some years ago, J D Wetherspoon’s Sir Isaac Pitman pub, in a listed building on Market Street, also closed.