£240m project will get Nottingham back up shopping league24 March 2011
The Victoria Centre's owners today unveiled a £240m scheme to woo national and international retailers.
It comes just days after bosses at the Broadmarsh Centre revealed their own £500m redevelopment. Business editor Richard Tresidder reports.
THE race to attract top retailers to Nottingham is under way in earnest now that the Victoria Centre's owners have revealed details of plans for a £240m extension.
It will take the centre from 985,000 sq ft to 1.4m sq ft.
Plans include a 200,000 sq ft department store and up to 50 new shops plus a ten screen cinema.
It would also involve the demolition of York House in Mansfield Road.
Owners Capital Shopping Centres (CSC) released details today which include demolishing the northern car park and bus station in the former railway cutting.
A new car park, bus station, shops and restaurants will be built on the site plus 100 cycle parking stands.
The new bus station will be centred on York Street and Union Street east of the existing York House and Rose of England pub.
When open, the expanded centre will add 2,000 permanent jobs to the current 3,000. The centre attracts 23 million shopping visits a year.
CSC said it believed the extension will help Nottingham retrieve its position as one of the UK's top retailing cities.
The city fell from fourth to seventh between 2004 and 2008, according to retail analysts Management Horizons.
A detailed planning application will be submitted over the next few weeks and construction could start early next year.
The extension would be completed in time for Christmas trading in 2015.
The announcement comes two days after Westfield revealed details of its own £500m refurbishment and extension of the Broadmarsh Centre where work could start next year on a 1.1m sq ft centre.
CSC announced earlier this year that it had a "war chest" of cash to spend on the Victoria Centre.
It declined to name retailers it is in talks with but said there were "two or three very interested parties" for the department store.
Victoria Centre manager Richard Bowler said: "We obviously want a large anchor store there."
In a statement, CSC said: "The design for the centre extension draws on Nottingham's rich architectural heritage and would create a beautiful new gateway to the north of the city centre."
Features include a new arcade-style link from Huntingdon Street to York Street.
Mr Bowler said: "The Victoria Centre has been part of the fabric of Nottingham for 40 years.
"We are committed to the city and are proud to launch a plan that will create thousands of jobs.
"Our plan will bring around 50 new shops and a major new department store alongside safe family-friendly restaurants and a cinema.
"We've listened to the local community, stakeholders and experts.
"Now we want to hear what our shoppers and local residents think - we hope as many as possible will come to find out more in the Victoria Centre over the coming days, or by visiting our website."
The plans go on show to the public in the Victoria Centre from today until Saturday.
Mr Bowler said they wanted to gain the views of the public before the planning application was submitted.
The plans have been worked up with support from the council and Mr Bowler suggested CSC could have planning consent by the end of the year.
He added: "The retail offer in Nottingham has diminished slightly over the past few years.
"The time is now right for Nottingham to get back up the league tables. Shoppers are saying that stores in Nottingham can be improved and there are a number of retailers who want to come into the city and can't get in here.
"A number of good, existing retailers can't improve their ranges because their stores aren't big enough. A number of retailers are interested in changing the shape and configuration of their stores.
"We have stores which are creaking at the seams. They have ranges and bigger offers they can't bring into Nottingham.
"As well as 50 new retailers, we will improve the size for those retailers."
Mr Bowler said firms such as New Look or Topshop now sold jewellery and footwear and some sold homeware. Their ranges have diversified and they are demanding more space. They are suffering because of a lack of investment over the years. They are keen to bring their modern city centre ranges to Nottingham. "
Mr Bowler continued: "House of Fraser, like a number of stores, are talking to us at the same time.
"The economy and the time are right for us to increase our offer."
The existing centre is being cosmetically improved under "Operation Jigsaw" which includes new toilets, lighting and information areas.
Mr Bowler said the bus station would have to be relocated while construction was under way.
Talks with the city council suggested that traffic flow round the Victoria Centre could be improved, he added.
James Cons, principal architect at Leslie Jones Architects, said: "We've carefully balanced the needs of local residents and shoppers in creating this plan for the future of the Victoria Centre.
"Our design references Nottingham's great architectural heritage and will help re-establish the city as one of the country's top retail destinations.
"We are proposing to swap a multi-storey car park with a significant gateway building to the north of the city centre, create a brand new bus station, and introduce a covered arcade that offers a new link into the city centre for the local community."
CSC owns 14 of the top shopping centres across the UK, including the Trafford Centre in Manchester, Metrocentre in Gateshead, Eldon Square in Newcastle, Lakeside in Thurrock and St David's Centre in Cardiff
Click on to wwww.thisisnottingham.co.uk to see the architects' tour of the new extension.
An exhibition of the plans opens at the Victoria Centre today until Saturday. Broadmarsh Centre plans can be seen in Broadmarsh until Saturday.