Retail regenerating the North West

Cuerden aerial view

Retail continues to play its part in regeneration projects as vibrant new districts and quarters come off the drawing board.

They include plans to bring a huge Ikea store to South Ribble as part of a massive development that could create 4,000 permanent jobs in central Lancashire.

The Cuerden strategic site sits at the end of the M65 and is predicted to bring around £241m a year into the area’s economy. It has now been given the green light by South Ribble Council’s planning committee.

The aim is to deliver a new outlet for the furniture giant, plus five further large format retail units and significant new employment space, alongside new cycle and footways, new homes, a small food store, a hotel, car showrooms, family pub and restaurants.

There is also a belief that the development could also attract other well-known national retailers.

Matthew Lewis, head of retail at law firm Squire Patton Boggs, says that retail has its part to play in delivering developments that create thousands of jobs, including those in the supply chain serving the new shopping destinations.

He also believes that there are changes afoot in some town and city centres that will alter the make-up of the traditional high street.

He said: “Primary locations will continue to do well as long as they continue to give a good experience.

“But there are real difficulties in secondary and tertiary locations. There is a question mark over whether these locations will continue to be retail locations in the future, whether they will service local requirements.

“Then there is the question of the high street – do we need a high street or do we need to make it into something else – other amenities, green space or housing?

“The traditional high street may no longer be what’s needed. Local authorities may grab the bull by the horns and say how do these areas reinvent themselves?”

The Albert Dock in Liverpool has long been a prime example of how a high quality retail and leisure offering can kick-start regeneration and bring money into neglected areas.

There are still retailers looking to move into the area and recently five new deals were announced by the landlords.

Rosa’s Thai Cafe and Lunyalita are the latest restaurateurs to sign for new 2,436 sq ft and 2,767 sq ft units, on a 15-year and 20-year (with 10-year break) lease respectively along the grade I-listed Britannia Pavilion.

The re-engagement with the city and wider region with an eclectic offering of retail, restaurants and leisure underpins the long-term vision for Albert Dock.

Next door to Lunyalita, Liverpool-based independent Leather Satchel Co, will see its store, that opened in December 2016, transform from a traditional retail outlet to an expanded and unique experiential offer called Hanshaw’s Leather Workshop – providing bespoke leather craft workshops. The 2,041 sq ft unit has been secured on a 10-year lease.

Chris Wright, from Aberdeen Standard Investments, said: “Albert Dock is a world-class tourist attraction bringing a significant amount of footfall to our tenants, however, we are striving to create a year-round destination within the city that locals visit regularly and feel compelled to return to.

“Signings such as these, along with those we are currently progressing with in legals give us confidence that our strategy is going in the right direction and represents an endorsement to creating a destination of choice within the city.”

Another prime example is the planned regeneration of the famous Wigan Pier.

The plans to transform the currently derelict 18th century industrial buildings into a mixed-use leisure destination are being seen as a catalyst for wider development in the area.

Wigan Pier was originally a coal loading jetty where wagons would unload coal on to canal barges.

It became famous through a music hall joke by George Formby Snr and through its appearance in the title of George Orwell’s graphic description of the plight of the English working class in the early 20th century ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’.

In 2014 Wigan Council announced the start of a 10-year regeneration programme to create a ‘New Road to Wigan Pier’.

The three former industrial buildings on the Pier which will be transformed include The Warehouse, The Orwell public house, and the Education Centre.

David Molyneux, deputy leader of Wigan Council, said: “Wigan Pier is one the most iconic locations in the North West.

“We have had long-held ambitions to create a new purpose for Wigan Pier as a destination and leisure attraction.”

The biggest example of redevelopment of neglected sites in the North West has been the on-going transformation of the land around the Manchester Ship Canal in Salford.

The arrival of the BBC and the Imperial War Museum at Salford Quays helped but at the centre of the redevelopment has been the retail and leisure offering alongside the Lowry Centre.

Another £13m has recently been spent on up-grading the retail offering and shops at the Lowry outlet centre.

Jason Pullen, managing director of Lifestyle Outlets, said: “It is Lifestyle Outlets’ passion for creating vibrant destinations, which inspired us to create, what will be, a truly stunning waterfront dining terrace with views over the Manchester ship canal, Old Trafford and the Manchester skyline.

“Historically the centre has turned its back on the water and we wanted to reverse that. We are working in conjunction with the wider MediaCity site creating a vibrant destination, already home to BBC, ITV and more, with digital creativity and leisure at its heart.”

Sue Richardson, KPMG North head of retail, said: “There is still competition for really prime sites; however, that competition is not necessarily from retailers it is from different types of business.

“We are seeing other types of leisure offering coming into some prime sites where rentals are quiet high. There is competition from restaurants and bars, coffee shops and other leisure type activities.”

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