Let's not damage Worcester city centre, says shopping body

Let's not damage Worcester city centre, says shopping body

Let's not damage Worcester city centre, says shopping body

First published in News Worcester News: Tom Edwards by , Political Reporter

A WARNING has been fired over plans for a new £150 million Worcester shopping park - amid fears it could damage the city centre.

Worcester Business Improvement District (BID), which represents traders in and around the High Street, says it is vital a new retail centre off Newtown Road does not detract from the existing shops.

The body says there are too many cities across the country which have allowed large out-of-town retail parks to go ahead, only for rules to eventually be relaxed on what can be sold, damaging the main shopping areas.

As your Worcester News revealed earlier this month, developer Land Securities is set to submit a planning application in October for a 240,000 sq ft shopping centre on acres of green fields at Worcester Woods.

It is likely to include John Lewis and Next, both of which are considering opening up specialised home and garden stores.

Adrian Field, from Worcester BID, said: "There are plenty of examples around, the country where city centres have suffered once other retail outlets have opened, and once that's happened it is hard to come back.

"In April (when we first revealed the plans) I did have phone calls from retailers in the city expressing concern.

"The key to this for us is public consultation, we need to get a broad view on what all the city centre shops think of it.

"You might get 50 per cent say they welcome investment, but on the other hand the other 50 per cent might say they don't want it.

"A clear view from the business community is vital."

Earlier this month Councillor Simon Geraghty, city council leader, said the Conservative leadership has a "city centre first policy" and would not want the High Street to be damaged in any way.

That is likely to lead to Land Securities only getting planning permission if all the new retailers sell items not readily available in the city - a stance which has already led to the likes of John Lewis looking at an 'at home' store.

A public consultation is expected to take place next month, led by the developer, before the planning application is submitted.

The development will come with around 1,100 parking spaces, with the largest anchor store set to span 90,000 sq ft.

It is expected to contain around 12 retail units.

Comments (18)

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7:31pm Sun 31 Aug 14

skychip says...

There are only so many new developments we want - after all we are having a new one at the Lychgate and Shrub Hill
There are only so many new developments we want - after all we are having a new one at the Lychgate and Shrub Hill skychip
  • Score: 8

7:37pm Sun 31 Aug 14

Hwicce says...

Well unless BID can come up with premises the size that the big retailers want with the number of free parking spaces they want then they are just a load of hot air.

The reason Worcester hasn't got the big retailers is because groups like BID are short-sighted and out of touch with what the public want. They need to wise up to reality if they want to stop people shopping in other towns where they do have the shops.
Well unless BID can come up with premises the size that the big retailers want with the number of free parking spaces they want then they are just a load of hot air. The reason Worcester hasn't got the big retailers is because groups like BID are short-sighted and out of touch with what the public want. They need to wise up to reality if they want to stop people shopping in other towns where they do have the shops. Hwicce
  • Score: 4

8:41pm Sun 31 Aug 14

WorcesterEye says...

The proposed new devleopment is very worrying. With many empty shop premises already in Worcester City centre this development can only accelerate the hollowing out of our city. Also it's unlikely to be fully occupied, with the St Martins quarter already a failure with only Asda, Costa (yet another coffee shop), a betting shop and a 99p store and many empty units. Restaurant units will also remain empty, competeing with the town centre and the proposed redevlopment of Cathedral Plaza / Square. The Newtown Road development should be stopped in its tracks. Instead, use the space for other employment, or housing.
The proposed new devleopment is very worrying. With many empty shop premises already in Worcester City centre this development can only accelerate the hollowing out of our city. Also it's unlikely to be fully occupied, with the St Martins quarter already a failure with only Asda, Costa (yet another coffee shop), a betting shop and a 99p store and many empty units. Restaurant units will also remain empty, competeing with the town centre and the proposed redevlopment of Cathedral Plaza / Square. The Newtown Road development should be stopped in its tracks. Instead, use the space for other employment, or housing. WorcesterEye
  • Score: 20

9:31pm Sun 31 Aug 14

3thinker says...

I doubt the City Council have the vision to get the balance right on this issue. Together with the County Council that have abandoned any real integrated transport policy for Worcester. Geraghty & Co seem to think the dulling of part of the southern link is the solution, but even County Highways experts anticipate grid lock within 5 years due to the substantial new development planned for the City.

Government changes to planning policy also seriously weaken any Council's ability to refuse let alone control development and its now almost impossible to plan for a sustainable growth when so much new land is being released for out of town retail and housing and on land that was originally earmarked for employment uses.

The BID is right to be concerned that this massive out of town retail proposal poses a real longer term threat to the viability and vitality of the City Centre. The problem will only be compounded if those in control at City and County don't have a serious look at what's needed to address growing congestion in the City.
I doubt the City Council have the vision to get the balance right on this issue. Together with the County Council that have abandoned any real integrated transport policy for Worcester. Geraghty & Co seem to think the dulling of part of the southern link is the solution, but even County Highways experts anticipate grid lock within 5 years due to the substantial new development planned for the City. Government changes to planning policy also seriously weaken any Council's ability to refuse let alone control development and its now almost impossible to plan for a sustainable growth when so much new land is being released for out of town retail and housing and on land that was originally earmarked for employment uses. The BID is right to be concerned that this massive out of town retail proposal poses a real longer term threat to the viability and vitality of the City Centre. The problem will only be compounded if those in control at City and County don't have a serious look at what's needed to address growing congestion in the City. 3thinker
  • Score: 11

10:56pm Sun 31 Aug 14

Gorecki says...

What's happening to the man in the bottom left of the photo?
What's happening to the man in the bottom left of the photo? Gorecki
  • Score: 5

12:41am Mon 1 Sep 14

originalG says...

What a stupid idea this development is! Does the council actually have ANY common sense? I think until most/all of the empty retail spaces in Worcester are filled, there should be NO talk of out of town retail developments. Worcester already looks very 'all over the place' re retail parks - and the ASDA area was and is a disaster. It looks very hodge podge! There are empty spaces in the St Martin's development and also in the city centre.

And all at the expense of GREEN BELT LAND! What is wrong with everyone? We do not need a new Next! or garden shops! There are already 2 Homebases, already a large retail park for that stuff at Blackpole as well as plenty of garden centres/Wickes etc. Why oh why build near the woods when we have this stuff already.

If you really are going to build on precious land, at least do something good for the community- maybe something for the bored young people of the city - skatepark/community centre/activity centre.
What a stupid idea this development is! Does the council actually have ANY common sense? I think until most/all of the empty retail spaces in Worcester are filled, there should be NO talk of out of town retail developments. Worcester already looks very 'all over the place' re retail parks - and the ASDA area was and is a disaster. It looks very hodge podge! There are empty spaces in the St Martin's development and also in the city centre. And all at the expense of GREEN BELT LAND! What is wrong with everyone? We do not need a new Next! or garden shops! There are already 2 Homebases, already a large retail park for that stuff at Blackpole as well as plenty of garden centres/Wickes etc. Why oh why build near the woods when we have this stuff already. If you really are going to build on precious land, at least do something good for the community- maybe something for the bored young people of the city - skatepark/community centre/activity centre. originalG
  • Score: 13

8:44am Mon 1 Sep 14

norman73 says...

Not surprised shops are worried. Last thing they want is shopping area with free parking.
Not surprised shops are worried. Last thing they want is shopping area with free parking. norman73
  • Score: 14

10:19am Mon 1 Sep 14

longpete says...

norman73 wrote:
Not surprised shops are worried. Last thing they want is shopping area with free parking.
Quite right. Who the hell wants to drive into a city centre where most of the city-owned car parks are run on the rip-off pay-and-display system: guess how long you might be staying (including excess for slow waiters, long till queues etc.); have the cash up front but make sure it's the right amount because no change is given; then enter your car reg so you can't even give away the excess you've had to pay because of the previous 2 points.

Pay-and-display is council-run THEFT and I for one refuse to be ripped off any more. However, in the city centre, it's either that or pay the rates the private car parks charge.

No thanks. I'd rather shop out of town.
[quote][p][bold]norman73[/bold] wrote: Not surprised shops are worried. Last thing they want is shopping area with free parking.[/p][/quote]Quite right. Who the hell wants to drive into a city centre where most of the city-owned car parks are run on the rip-off pay-and-display system: guess how long you might be staying (including excess for slow waiters, long till queues etc.); have the cash up front but make sure it's the right amount because no change is given; then enter your car reg so you can't even give away the excess you've had to pay because of the previous 2 points. Pay-and-display is council-run THEFT and I for one refuse to be ripped off any more. However, in the city centre, it's either that or pay the rates the private car parks charge. No thanks. I'd rather shop out of town. longpete
  • Score: 5

10:21am Mon 1 Sep 14

pinkfluff says...

Gorecki wrote:
What's happening to the man in the bottom left of the photo?
One man and his monkey puppet I think lol.
[quote][p][bold]Gorecki[/bold] wrote: What's happening to the man in the bottom left of the photo?[/p][/quote]One man and his monkey puppet I think lol. pinkfluff
  • Score: 2

10:26am Mon 1 Sep 14

longpete says...

Hwicce wrote:
Well unless BID can come up with premises the size that the big retailers want with the number of free parking spaces they want then they are just a load of hot air.

The reason Worcester hasn't got the big retailers is because groups like BID are short-sighted and out of touch with what the public want. They need to wise up to reality if they want to stop people shopping in other towns where they do have the shops.
If someone set about redeveloping the Cornmarket, including where the old Co-op building now is, with some underground parking to (more than) make up for the parking spaces there at the moment, we could keep the shopping inside the city, increase the number of parking spaces, rejuvenate one of the most depressing areas of the city centre and provide a link to Lowesmoor and St Martins that could bring more shoppers their way.

The Cornmarket is really the hub of the city and it's criminal that this space isn't better used.
[quote][p][bold]Hwicce[/bold] wrote: Well unless BID can come up with premises the size that the big retailers want with the number of free parking spaces they want then they are just a load of hot air. The reason Worcester hasn't got the big retailers is because groups like BID are short-sighted and out of touch with what the public want. They need to wise up to reality if they want to stop people shopping in other towns where they do have the shops.[/p][/quote]If someone set about redeveloping the Cornmarket, including where the old Co-op building now is, with some underground parking to (more than) make up for the parking spaces there at the moment, we could keep the shopping inside the city, increase the number of parking spaces, rejuvenate one of the most depressing areas of the city centre and provide a link to Lowesmoor and St Martins that could bring more shoppers their way. The Cornmarket is really the hub of the city and it's criminal that this space isn't better used. longpete
  • Score: 11

11:39am Mon 1 Sep 14

gmoore1207 says...

if council and land lords got together lowered rent and rates on shops in city centre would help fill shops all these shop standing empty going to rack and ruin it must be better to have people in these shop instead of them failing into disrepair the town looks terrible with empty shops with posters all over them i am ashamed to say i come from worcester
if council and land lords got together lowered rent and rates on shops in city centre would help fill shops all these shop standing empty going to rack and ruin it must be better to have people in these shop instead of them failing into disrepair the town looks terrible with empty shops with posters all over them i am ashamed to say i come from worcester gmoore1207
  • Score: 4

12:11pm Mon 1 Sep 14

Roger5 says...

I agree with other posters, that there are already plenty of prime units in Worcester standing empty. Why start another 'shopping centre' elsewhere? The land in the vicinity of Shrub Hill station would ideally be prioritised for housing, so that people can get to Birmingham for jobs, travelling on the train (it is clear to me after living in Worcester for many years that not much employment is ever coming to our town, other than low paid retail jobs or alternatively very specialised technical/profession
al jobs). Easy profit for developers is at the bottom of this, and not much strategy on the part of the local authority, who will seemingly bow down to developers for the price of a landscaped roundabout!
I agree with other posters, that there are already plenty of prime units in Worcester standing empty. Why start another 'shopping centre' elsewhere? The land in the vicinity of Shrub Hill station would ideally be prioritised for housing, so that people can get to Birmingham for jobs, travelling on the train (it is clear to me after living in Worcester for many years that not much employment is ever coming to our town, other than low paid retail jobs or alternatively very specialised technical/profession al jobs). Easy profit for developers is at the bottom of this, and not much strategy on the part of the local authority, who will seemingly bow down to developers for the price of a landscaped roundabout! Roger5
  • Score: 7

1:20pm Mon 1 Sep 14

Hwicce says...

longpete wrote:
Hwicce wrote:
Well unless BID can come up with premises the size that the big retailers want with the number of free parking spaces they want then they are just a load of hot air.

The reason Worcester hasn't got the big retailers is because groups like BID are short-sighted and out of touch with what the public want. They need to wise up to reality if they want to stop people shopping in other towns where they do have the shops.
If someone set about redeveloping the Cornmarket, including where the old Co-op building now is, with some underground parking to (more than) make up for the parking spaces there at the moment, we could keep the shopping inside the city, increase the number of parking spaces, rejuvenate one of the most depressing areas of the city centre and provide a link to Lowesmoor and St Martins that could bring more shoppers their way.

The Cornmarket is really the hub of the city and it's criminal that this space isn't better used.
You and others are totally missing the point.

Trinity House (old co-op) is 62,000 sq feet. One (yes just ONE) of the new units at Newtown Road will be one and a half times larger at 90,000 sq feet.

To get 1,100 parking spaces you will need to build (bury?) a multi-story cark park larger than the St Martins Gate one.

Even if you do the above (at great expense) you will have one shop (two thirds the size required) rather than a series of units that will be much cheaper, much easier to get to, and there for much more likely to be filled and hence bring jobs to Worcester.

To believe any big retailer is going to give the city centre a second glance is just deluded.
[quote][p][bold]longpete[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Hwicce[/bold] wrote: Well unless BID can come up with premises the size that the big retailers want with the number of free parking spaces they want then they are just a load of hot air. The reason Worcester hasn't got the big retailers is because groups like BID are short-sighted and out of touch with what the public want. They need to wise up to reality if they want to stop people shopping in other towns where they do have the shops.[/p][/quote]If someone set about redeveloping the Cornmarket, including where the old Co-op building now is, with some underground parking to (more than) make up for the parking spaces there at the moment, we could keep the shopping inside the city, increase the number of parking spaces, rejuvenate one of the most depressing areas of the city centre and provide a link to Lowesmoor and St Martins that could bring more shoppers their way. The Cornmarket is really the hub of the city and it's criminal that this space isn't better used.[/p][/quote]You and others are totally missing the point. Trinity House (old co-op) is 62,000 sq feet. One (yes just ONE) of the new units at Newtown Road will be one and a half times larger at 90,000 sq feet. To get 1,100 parking spaces you will need to build (bury?) a multi-story cark park larger than the St Martins Gate one. Even if you do the above (at great expense) you will have one shop (two thirds the size required) rather than a series of units that will be much cheaper, much easier to get to, and there for much more likely to be filled and hence bring jobs to Worcester. To believe any big retailer is going to give the city centre a second glance is just deluded. Hwicce
  • Score: 3

6:09pm Mon 1 Sep 14

Old Uncle says...

No shopping centre is all things to all people. Diversity, choice and reasonable pricing will bring people in. The Asda system which allows you to basically park free should be looked at as a model for down town. The Cornmarket is begging to be developed. The Angel Place fiasco two weeks ago highlighted that . For the BID people to try to stifle competition and thus short change the public is shortsighted and doomed to failure. People will vote with their feet (or cars).
No shopping centre is all things to all people. Diversity, choice and reasonable pricing will bring people in. The Asda system which allows you to basically park free should be looked at as a model for down town. The Cornmarket is begging to be developed. The Angel Place fiasco two weeks ago highlighted that . For the BID people to try to stifle competition and thus short change the public is shortsighted and doomed to failure. People will vote with their feet (or cars). Old Uncle
  • Score: 0

9:48pm Mon 1 Sep 14

Gorecki says...

Just re some of the comments. I've moved here from London and to be fair the Crown gate mall bit by Huntingdon hall stands up to most of the shopping areas back in London, it's been very well done.
Just re some of the comments. I've moved here from London and to be fair the Crown gate mall bit by Huntingdon hall stands up to most of the shopping areas back in London, it's been very well done. Gorecki
  • Score: 6

10:43am Tue 2 Sep 14

longpete says...

Hwicce wrote:
longpete wrote:
Hwicce wrote:
Well unless BID can come up with premises the size that the big retailers want with the number of free parking spaces they want then they are just a load of hot air.

The reason Worcester hasn't got the big retailers is because groups like BID are short-sighted and out of touch with what the public want. They need to wise up to reality if they want to stop people shopping in other towns where they do have the shops.
If someone set about redeveloping the Cornmarket, including where the old Co-op building now is, with some underground parking to (more than) make up for the parking spaces there at the moment, we could keep the shopping inside the city, increase the number of parking spaces, rejuvenate one of the most depressing areas of the city centre and provide a link to Lowesmoor and St Martins that could bring more shoppers their way.

The Cornmarket is really the hub of the city and it's criminal that this space isn't better used.
You and others are totally missing the point.

Trinity House (old co-op) is 62,000 sq feet. One (yes just ONE) of the new units at Newtown Road will be one and a half times larger at 90,000 sq feet.

To get 1,100 parking spaces you will need to build (bury?) a multi-story cark park larger than the St Martins Gate one.

Even if you do the above (at great expense) you will have one shop (two thirds the size required) rather than a series of units that will be much cheaper, much easier to get to, and there for much more likely to be filled and hence bring jobs to Worcester.

To believe any big retailer is going to give the city centre a second glance is just deluded.
Hwicce wrote:
You and others are totally missing the point. Trinity House (old co-op) is 62,000 sq feet. One (yes just ONE) of the new units at Newtown Road will be one and a half times larger at 90,000 sq feet. To get 1,100 parking spaces you will need to build (bury?) a multi-story cark park larger than the St Martins Gate one. Even if you do the above (at great expense) you will have one shop (two thirds the size required) rather than a series of units that will be much cheaper, much easier to get to, and there for much more likely to be filled and hence bring jobs to Worcester. To believe any big retailer is going to give the city centre a second glance is just deluded.


I didn't say to put the entire proposed development in the cornmarket. I said that the Cornmarket should be redevelopped, including Trinity House (demolished and rebuilt which could take it well over 6000m2).

Building multi-storey underground car parks is not a great problem and a 3-level one under the Cornmarket (including Queen Street and probably under the CWR to Silver Street) would house a lot more than 3 times the 75 spaces currently available on the Cornmarket.

On top of that, it's all very well saying that we need these big stores etc. But people only have so much money to spend, and if they spend it there, they're not going to spend it in the current shops. Queue more empty units in the High Street.

A few years ago I went to Wichita in Kansas, USA. A 500,000-person town with absolutely no town centre at all. No shopping street, hardly any pubs or cafes, nothing. Everyone did their shopping in out-of-town malls. I for one don't want Worcester to end up like that.
[quote][p][bold]Hwicce[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]longpete[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Hwicce[/bold] wrote: Well unless BID can come up with premises the size that the big retailers want with the number of free parking spaces they want then they are just a load of hot air. The reason Worcester hasn't got the big retailers is because groups like BID are short-sighted and out of touch with what the public want. They need to wise up to reality if they want to stop people shopping in other towns where they do have the shops.[/p][/quote]If someone set about redeveloping the Cornmarket, including where the old Co-op building now is, with some underground parking to (more than) make up for the parking spaces there at the moment, we could keep the shopping inside the city, increase the number of parking spaces, rejuvenate one of the most depressing areas of the city centre and provide a link to Lowesmoor and St Martins that could bring more shoppers their way. The Cornmarket is really the hub of the city and it's criminal that this space isn't better used.[/p][/quote]You and others are totally missing the point. Trinity House (old co-op) is 62,000 sq feet. One (yes just ONE) of the new units at Newtown Road will be one and a half times larger at 90,000 sq feet. To get 1,100 parking spaces you will need to build (bury?) a multi-story cark park larger than the St Martins Gate one. Even if you do the above (at great expense) you will have one shop (two thirds the size required) rather than a series of units that will be much cheaper, much easier to get to, and there for much more likely to be filled and hence bring jobs to Worcester. To believe any big retailer is going to give the city centre a second glance is just deluded.[/p][/quote][bold]Hwicce[/bold] wrote: [quote][p]You and others are totally missing the point. Trinity House (old co-op) is 62,000 sq feet. One (yes just ONE) of the new units at Newtown Road will be one and a half times larger at 90,000 sq feet. To get 1,100 parking spaces you will need to build (bury?) a multi-story cark park larger than the St Martins Gate one. Even if you do the above (at great expense) you will have one shop (two thirds the size required) rather than a series of units that will be much cheaper, much easier to get to, and there for much more likely to be filled and hence bring jobs to Worcester. To believe any big retailer is going to give the city centre a second glance is just deluded. [/p][/quote] I didn't say to put the entire proposed development in the cornmarket. I said that the Cornmarket should be redevelopped, including Trinity House (demolished and rebuilt which could take it well over 6000m2). Building multi-storey underground car parks is not a great problem and a 3-level one under the Cornmarket (including Queen Street and probably under the CWR to Silver Street) would house a lot more than 3 times the 75 spaces currently available on the Cornmarket. On top of that, it's all very well saying that we need these big stores etc. But people only have so much money to spend, and if they spend it there, they're not going to spend it in the current shops. Queue more empty units in the High Street. A few years ago I went to Wichita in Kansas, USA. A 500,000-person town with absolutely no town centre at all. No shopping street, hardly any pubs or cafes, nothing. Everyone did their shopping in out-of-town malls. I for one don't want Worcester to end up like that. longpete
  • Score: 2

10:45am Tue 2 Sep 14

longpete says...

Sorry - my attempt at just quoting part of the mail I was replying to failed because I forgot to remove the original quote!
Sorry - my attempt at just quoting part of the mail I was replying to failed because I forgot to remove the original quote! longpete
  • Score: 0

5:35pm Thu 4 Sep 14

GettingBy says...

I was under the impression that many town and city planners now realise that city centres will be less about shopping and more about café culture. BIDS problem is that, as retailers move out of its area i.e. the city centre, the whole reason for its existence disappears which would leave city marketing down to the chamber of commerce, resulting in a fragmented and disparate message about the faithful city.
I was under the impression that many town and city planners now realise that city centres will be less about shopping and more about café culture. BIDS problem is that, as retailers move out of its area i.e. the city centre, the whole reason for its existence disappears which would leave city marketing down to the chamber of commerce, resulting in a fragmented and disparate message about the faithful city. GettingBy
  • Score: 0
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