Marriotts Walk-3

Council shortlisted for ‘Deal of the Year’ award

West Oxfordshire District Council has been shortlisted in the category ‘Deal of the Year - Commercial Property (under £50m)’ in the Property Week awards for its purchase of Witney based shopping centre Marriotts Walk.

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 £30m. After a subsequent change of hands to a different institutional landlord it became clear that they didn’t have the interests of local people or the centre at heart. By taking the facility back under our control it gave us the freedom to make the most of the site and enhance the vibrancy of Witney as a whole.

“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.”

Witney is a thriving market town, but local people and the Council were frustrated at a lack of interest from the owners. 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. The Council paid £9.1m with a deal in progress to secure Sports Direct as an occupier for the former Debenhams unit.

The Council ran its first Christmas Market in December 2023, attracting approximately 15,000 shoppers to Marriotts Walk, which was a 59% increase on the same period in 2022 and a massive 70% increase on the previous week’s visitors.  The market was a resounding success, and the Council will look at organising more events in the future.

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

Contact Information

West Oxfordshire District Council Communications Team

[email protected]

Notes to editors

Marriotts Walk shopping centre freehold was purchased by West Oxfordshire District Council in January 2023. The 4.9 acres Marriotts Walk site sits in the centre of Witney after being built in 2007. It includes 21 lettable business units along with a 590-space car park.