A £5 million overhaul of Worcester’s CrownGate Shopping Centre has been completed with the aim of turning the city into one of the region’s major retail destinations.

Developers believe Worcester has been unnecessarily losing shoppers to other areas over the last decade but hope the improvements made to the paving, seating, lighting, ceiling and canopies, as well as a rebrand, will end its “black sheep” image and entice people back to the city’s shops.

The investment – the biggest since CrownGate first opened 17 years ago – has already brought clothing brands Animal and Gerry Weber to the shopping centre, along with award-winning café chain Boston Tea Party to the former TJ’s building on the corner of Broad Street and Angel Place, with the promise of more ann-ouncements to follow in the coming months.

While all major work has finished, some final touches will still be taking place over the course of the next couple of weeks.

Jim Yates, head of development at the Crown Estate, which owns CrownGate, said he hoped the investment will help bring in shoppers from all over Worcestershire and beyond.

“Our feeling is Worcester has been missing out, it has been losing shoppers,” he said. “We’re not sure where they have been going but we just feel it certainly has less shoppers than five or 10 years ago. This is the start of a renaissance in what Worcester has to offer.

“This needed to be done to turn the tide and it has made the difference.”

Now that new York stone paving has been laid, eco-friendly lighting installed, and glazed canopies completed only one or two jobs are left to do before the whole scheme, which mainly focuses on Chapel Walk, is fully finished – the replacement of the “very odd” pavilion unit by Huntingdon Hall with a contemporary glass structure in Bell Square the most notable.

Erica Burlace, centre manager, said she was anticipating “a phenomenal response from shoppers” to the improvements but acknowledged the last two to three years have been tough for the shops.

“The support of all the CrownGate retailers has been paramount to the success of the programme and I want to thank them for their support, patience and cooperation while the refurbishment and re-brand has been underway,” she said.

Over the next two weeks an array of activities and events will be taking place in CrownGate as part of a fashion fortnight celebrating the rebranding and completion of the refurbishment work.

While the Friary Walk section of CrownGate has hardly been affected by these improvement works, it is hoped a similar scheme will be drawn up in a couple of years’ time.