A MULTI-MILLION pound scheme to redevelop one of Worcester’s main shopping centres has been given the thumbs up by the city council.
Salmon Harvester Opportunity Fund, which owns the Cathedral Plaza, won the backing of Worcester City Council’s planning committee to revamp the centre at a meeting yesterday (Thursday).
The project, which could be completed by spring 2016, will see the introduction of seven restaurants, which would overlook a new public square. The roundabout opposite Worcester Cathedral will also be reduced in size in a bid to make the area more pedestrian friendly.
Although members of the committee unanimously approved the scheme, Coun Paul Denham was among a number of councillors who felt the developers could do even more to revitalise the site.
“I think must of us would prefer if the existing building were completely knocked down and start again, but we are where we are,” he said.
“I actually think the developers have done a pretty good job on this building as it is definitely a great improvement from what is there at the moment.”
Coun Denham said he would like to see the island completely removed and Bob Pender, from Worcestershire County Council’s highways team, said they had considered making it a “shared space”.
However, he said the idea was quickly quashed as the existing roundabout was on a busy main road heading to and from the Worcester Bridge.
Coun Andy Roberts said the scheme, which is expected to generate more than 100 jobs, was a “tremendous step forward” for the city, while Coun Roger Berry welcomed the changes to the roundabout.
“I am concerned about the prominence of the highways in this area, but it is still a main road and it is impossible to alter that situation,” Coun Berry said. “We are where we are, but it is a step in the right direction.”
Coun Lynn Denham added: “I think we should very much welcome the investment into our city and this is an opportunity to make improvements.
“It is not the perfect article and not the provision we might wish for, but it will be a significant improvement to that part of the city.”
In a letter to the city council, Bishop of Worcester Dr John Inge and Dean of Worcester Very Rev Peter Atkinson also welcomed the proposals But they called on councillors to look at “abandoning” the name Cathedral Plaza and changing it to Cathedral Square, which Coun David Wilkinson, chairman of the planning committee, agreed to put forward to the developer.