PLANS for a mini Cribbs Causeway-style shopping centre on the edge of Worcester have been criticised by the city’s main retail body.
Worcester Business Improvement District (BID), which represents city centre shops, says it fears for the High Street if it goes ahead.
The group also says it is prepared to object to the development unless it gets assurances on the impact on the city.
As your Worcester News revealed on Saturday, a major developer wants to open a retail park, containing the likes of John Lewis, on Worcester Woods – acres of green fields off Newtown Road.
Adrian Field, from Worcester BID, said: “Our first interest is to protect the city centre.
“We’ve seen numerous examples around the country where an out-of-town development has affected a town or city centre, like in Margate, and to some extent we’ve seen that in Kidderminster with Weavers Wharf.
“There are businesses in the city which would feel the impact of this – even if it’s restricted to home furnishings we’d have serious concerns.
“We’d oppose it and so would businesses, we’d certainly want to know more.
“We wouldn’t want it to take people from the city centre.”The proposals are being led by Land Securities, which has been in talks with John Lewis, Next, Marks & Spencer and B&Q.
Sources suggest the city council is open minded to it, as long as the retail park sells goods not commonly available on the High Street.
Subject to a planning application being submitted and accepted, it would create about 500 jobs, with around 13 shops taking up 500,000 sq ft of floor space.
Land Securities has confirmed talks are ongoing with retailers and says it is “assessing the viability”
of the site, which is next to Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
John Lewis has refused to comment on what it calls “market speculation”.
Councillor Geoff Williams, city council deputy leader and cabinet member for economic prosperity, said: “Clearly I can’t comment on a planning application that we haven’t received, but we would always welcome new job creation and businesses who see their future in Worcester.
“We do of course have to be mindful of the need to protect the strength of the city centre."