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Hundreds of people are being offered another chance to comment on plans to redevelop Prince Bishops Place Shopping Centre and reshape the future of retail in the heart of Durham City centre.
A second drop-in event is being held on 9 August at Unit 4 from 12.00 – 18.00 at Prince Bishops Place, where people can meet the Citrus team behind plans for the multi-million-pound transformation of the Prince Bishops Place shopping centre.
The real estate investment company wants to redevelop the shopping centre to entice more local, independent retailers to the site. A mix of new, more flexible retail units designed to accommodate the needs of independent operators and smaller national multiples are included as part of the ambitious plans to regenerate an important city centre gateway site.
A 130-bedroom hotel, new leisure attractions and exciting and attractive public spaces would also be created to increase the dwell-time of visitors. The largely empty upper floors of the centre would be redeveloped to introduce a new residential population, in the form of around 300 units of student accommodation.
The move comes on the back of a public consultation launched by planning specialist Lichfields and an initial drop-in event in July attended by approximately 150 people. This has reaffirmed widespread acknowledgement (70% plus of respondents) that Prince Bishops Place needs to change.
Plans will see the site transformed into a vibrant and exciting venue for shopping, leisure activities and overnight stays, said James Taylor, regional director for developer Citrus Group.
“We would like to thank those who attended the first drop, which was well attended, and have already shared their views via the consultation,” he added. “There is now a further opportunity for people to comment on proposals and we would encourage anyone with an interest to attend the event to discover more.”
There is considerable debate around the best mix of use within the development. Robert Dibden, associate director at Lichfields Newcastle office, said independent retail and more flexible retail floorplates are popular, and the scheme includes approx. 6000 sq. m. of commercial floorspace at mall level.
He added: “This is an exciting regeneration project that will deliver new opportunities, jobs and economic prosperity. It would herald the transformation of retail in the city centre, so we are keen to hear the views of as many local people and stakeholders as possible before final plans are submitted.”
The digital consultation will remain live online at www.princebishopsplace.info until 16 August 2023.
The History of Prince Bishops Place
Opened in 1998, the shopping centre is now a victim of structural changes in the retail sector over the past decade; exacerbated by Covid. With high vacancy rates, and little demand from national multiple retailers, it is essential that the centre reinvents itself and offers other reasons to visit.
Located between Elvet Bridge and Market Square, and overlooking the River Wear with extensive views of the historic castle and cathedral, the proposed £60 Million development would see the 400-space lower-level multi-storey car park retained.
While some of the site will be demolished, most of the shopping centre’s existing below mall infrastructure will be retained and reconfigured. This will provide upwards of 6,500 sq. m. of retail space to meet the future diverse needs of a mix of independents and national retailers.
New walkways, pedestrian seating offering views across the River Wear, and a public square bordered by landscaping, will all be provided to attract more visitors and increase the amount of time they spend in the city centre.
The square, which will be able to cater for a range of public events, will be the centrepiece of the scheme, accommodating the main entrances to the hotel and student accommodation as well as a selection of busy shops, restaurants and family-focused leisure facilities.
The project has the potential to be transformative both for Prince Bishops Place itself and also Durham more widely by increasing dwell-time and retained visitor spend in the city, according to planning specialists Lichfields, which is seeking the views of local people on the plans.
If the project gets the green light from the County Council next year, around 195 full-time equivalent jobs in the retail, hospitality and wider regional supply chain sectors could be created when the site eventually opens, contributing between £5.4m and £8.6m Gross Value Added in economic output to the city.
A formal planning application is expected to be submitted to Durham County Council in late 2023.