A JOBS bonanza is on the way to Worcester - with around 1,000 new roles created if a multi-million pound shopping centre featuring John Lewis and Next gets the nod.

People across the city are now being urged to have their say on a developer's bid to create a massive £150 million pound retail park off Newton Road, with more details emerging on the project.

Your Worcester News can reveal:

- The shopping park will create 1,000 new jobs, around twice as many as originally thought

- John Lewis and Next, both of whom were rumoured to be eyeing the site up, are two of the stores prepared to open 'at home' outlets as long as it gets planning permission

- Developer Land Securities says it will focus on "high quality shopping" throughout the rest of the retail park and that the rest of the complex will feature "new operators" to Worcester different to what already exists in the city centre

A two-day public consultation is taking place at The Hive in Worcester, this Friday and Saturday, where the public can go along and see the plans in person.

As your Worcester News first revealed in April, the land in question is known locally as Worcester Woods, 11 hectares of fields owned by Spetchley Estates.

In recent months Land Securities has been locked in talks with major retailers and now has enough of them signed up to be finalising a planning application, which will be submitted to Worcester City Council around November.

The retail park will span 240,000 sq ft and has been dubbed a 'mini Cribbs Causeway' by industry experts.

Nick Duffield, portfolio director for Land Securities, said: "We're hoping to submit a planning application to Worcester City Council in the coming months but before we do we'd like to get the views of the local community.

"I'd encourage people to come along to the exhibition to discuss the proposals with members of the project team and have their say.

“The proposals will bring new, high quality retail formats and operators to Worcester, deliver significant investment in the area and create approximately 1,000 new jobs for local people.

“The proposed development will complement the existing retail offer found in Worcester city centre and help reduce the need for residents to travel to meet their shopping needs.”

Friday's session will run from noon until 7pm, and on Saturday it will be staged between 10am-3pm on the ground floor.

On both days experts working on the project will be able on hand to answer questions.

People not able to attend the sessions who still want to offer views or find out more are asked to call 0800 458 6976.


WORCESTER MP Robin Walker has hailed the potential jobs boost from a £150 million shopping complex as "transformative" for the city - but says it is vital the High Street is protected.

The Conservative told your Worcester News Land Securities' proposal is just another example of investors being prepared to show serious ambitions for the city.

At the moment around 1,429 people in Worcester are claiming unemployment benefits, meaning 1,000 new jobs could make a serious dent in the figure.

Mr Walker said: "The scale of the jobs is substantial and transformative - if you look at the current figures around 1,500 people are out of work so this could really help.

"But clearly the real challenge here will be to make sure it does not cannibalise the High Street.

"I'm sure a lot of people would welcome the likes of a John Lewis 'at home' store and what it does show is that serious investors are coming forward, it's good to see that level of ambition being shown.

"There will be issues around transport and parking and it will all need to be looked at very carefully because what we don't want it to do is take anything away from the city centre."

Representatives from Land Securities have met with the city council in recent months and been told the shopping park needs to compliment the High Street by offering alternative products.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, city council leader, has already said his policy over Worcester is "city centre first".

People who run shops in the city are being told that if they have concerns, the time to put them across is now.

Worcester's Business Improvement District (BID), which represents retailers and other private firms in the city, says it is eagerly awaiting the two-day consultation event before deciding what to do.

Adrian Field, head of the BID, said: "We would urge businesses in the city centre to get involved.

"We are very keen for them to have a look at the proposals, see what is included and have their say."