The future of a High Wycombe shopping centre has been thrown into doubt after it was revealed that a housing developer is close to buying it.

The Chilterns Shopping Centre – which was recently criticised by an outgoing shop owner for not investing in new businesses – looks set to be bought by Dandara Homes, a move which has been welcomed by one councillor, who said any changes to the centre would help to “animate” that part of Frogmoor and draw more people to the area.

While details surrounding the deal have yet to be revealed, Wycombe District Council’s interim corporate director, David Anderson, confirmed the move to councillors at a full council meeting on Monday.

His comments came amid complaints about Frogmoor – where the shopping centre is based – and anti-social behaviour as councillors discussed ways the area could be improved.

Mr Anderson said: “We have received confirmation that the Chilterns Shopping Centre is due to be purchased by Dandara and there will be proposals for its development which I am confident will improve the footfall around Frogmoor and provide the opportunity to develop it.”

Speaking to the Bucks Free Press about the move, Cllr Tony Green, chairman of the High Wycombe Town Committee, said it was the “keystone to improving Frogmoor”.

He said: “Clearly the Chilterns Shopping Centre, as anyone who has been there knows, is underused. Most people would welcome something happening to it by way of redevelopment or reusing it.

“It is something the council has been looking at for some time. It would be nice if it was changed in some way to bring more people to that part of town.”

The town centre – and the Chilterns Shopping Centre in particular – was slammed by John Strode, who owned Yes Please Golf, before he decided to close his doors in August, claiming that High Wycombe was “not the dream he was sold”.

The Oxford resident criticised the Centre for not investing in new businesses, and said the town is “not moving forward” or “showing signs of improvement”.

Speaking about the shopping centre potentially turned into housing, Cllr Green said: “There is a demand for town centre housing these days, especially for young professionals.

“Something needs to be done with it as there is not a lot of use to it at the moment. Most of the shop units are empty.

“It needs something to animate that side of Frogmoor.”

Addressing the area’s problems with anti-social behaviour, Cllr Matt Knight said at the meeting that Frogmoor “is increasingly becoming an area which families avoid due to a small minority of people being drunk and behaving erratically”.

He highlighted how the Christmas lights switch on was a “delight”, with hundreds of families descending on the area to enjoy the festivities in November, but said a “balanced approach” is needed to tackle the problems blighting the area.

In response, Cllr Graham, cabinet member for community, said various options are being considered to improve the area.

A spokesman from Dandara said they were “not in a position” to comment due to the “sensitivity” of the plans, and would release a statement in the new year.