A meeting of the full West Lothian Council accepted that the current lease arrangement is not viable, but instructed officers to carry out a number of actions aimed at ensuring a positive future for retail in the centre of Blackburn.
These included: further negotiations with the Mill Centre owners to see if more favourable lease arrangements can be reached; actively marketing nearby council-owned sites such as the former filling station in Ash Grove; and continuing to work with Blackburn Community Council, current Mill Centre tenants and the wider community to find a solution.
Centre owners, private pension fund G Dunbar & Sons (Builders) notified the council in January 2019 that they plan to close the Mill Centre in March 2020.
West Lothian Council currently has the head-lease for the Mill Centre, and sub-leases units to a number of businesses. A decision was made by Council Executive in June 2018 not to renew this head-lease when it expires in February 2020, as it operates at a loss of over £55,000 per year.
A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: "We will continue to work with all parties to try and ensure a positive future for retail and services currently delivered in Blackburn.
"We still believe that the Mill Centre is economically viable for a commercial operator, however, this is a decision for the centre owners.
"Two reports will be prepared for the Council Executive before the summer recess, outlining both the latest position on the Mill Centre and the opportunities for economic regeneration in Blackburn.
"It was also agreed that any potential future lease should take account of the necessity of The Mill Centre."
The Mill Centre was developed in 1997 as part of an urban renewal project for Blackburn to redevelop the town centre and regenerate the previous run-down shopping centre.
West Lothian Council and partners recently have invested over £8 million to deliver Blackburn Partnership Centre hub for community and health services adjacent to the Mill Centre, while Scotmid own their supermarket in the Mill Centre, along with two currently vacant retail units.
For more details, please visit Mill Centre FAQ