CONTROVERSIAL plans to create a huge retail park on the outskirts of Worcester could cost the city centre £50million, the owners of Cathedral Plaza have warned.
Speaking at a meeting at the Worcester Whitehouse Hotel on Monday (July 6), Salmon Harvester said the 396,175sq ft. retail park south of Newtown Road by the Worcestershire Royal Hospital would ‘tip the balance’ away from shopping centre.
The meeting was arranged by Worcester BID in response to the plans for the vast retail park near Worcester Woods which has already seen retail giants such as John Lewis, M&S, Sainsbury’s and Next at Home stores express an interest in moving to the site.
A number of city centre businesses were invited to the meeting has followed a presentation from developers Land Securities and a public consultation last September.
City businesses were told how they could object to the proposals which are due before Worcester planning chiefs in the coming months.
Among the evidence presented during the meeting was a finding in the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) which highlighted Worcester City Centre as a ‘priority for development’.
Organisers accepted the SWDP had not yet been approved but stressed their hope council chiefs would pay attention to the claim in any deliberations.
Among those in attendance was Tim Evans who has owned Toys and Games in Broad Street for the past 21 years.
“In 2004, we made a long term commitment and investment in the city and purchased the freehold,” he said.
“We were confident in our business, our future and our city.
“I’ve lived in Worcester for more than 40 years, I care, I’m passionate about it, I’m passionate about its past and its future, its culture, its heritage, its community.
“Some of the things I have heard tonight scare the living daylights out of me.
“It’s more than just a business thing, if we have a city centre that looks derelict then what good is it to have things like the Catherdral and the Commandery?,” he added.
Adrian Field, head of Worcester BID who hosted the meeting told the Observer: “I think it’s important traders are aware of the potential impact of the proposal.
“The more we tell them, the more they can make a reasoned judgement and deliver a view whether for or against.
“We are keen to wait on the independent report commissioned by Worcester City Council to see a neutral view but I am quite confident it will state there will be a negative impact on the city centre.
“Could it sustain a loss of £50million? Worcester has ridden the storm well compared to other towns and cities, we want to keep that the case.
“We don’t want to lose that on one planning decision which could have an impact for a generation,” he added.
Visit www.worcesterwoodsretail.co.uk for more details about the plans.
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