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Gloucestershire Business News

King's Quarter redevelopment is 'vital' to transforming the city centre, say Gloucester retailers

Gloucester's retailers have thrown their emphatic support behind the £85million scheme that will see the King's Quarter of the city transformed.

Representatives from the industry ranging from High Street giants to franchisees and shopping centre managers have said that the scheme is vital for the ongoing regeneration of the city.

The scheme will see King's Square and the King's Walk Shopping centre overhauled and further developments carried out in the area between the square and the city's transport hub.

And retailers and owners within the area believe that it can act as a catalyst to encourage shoppers back into Gloucester's city centre.

Nick Brand, Store Manager of Gloucestershire's flagship Debenhams store, which overlooks Kings Square, says the plans to transform the area are key to putting the area back on the map.

"This development is significant - and vital - if we want to bring a lot more people into Gloucester," he said. It could be just what the area needs if it's done right and managed well.

"The plans are hugely exciting, in terms of a much better use of the space in the square for events and activities at Christmas, and I can see it being a space that people will come to and enjoy.

"This will make King's Square a destination and I hope will increase people's desire to visit the city centre with their family and improve the footfall to stores.

"This in turn is likely to encourage more investment in stores to make for a more enjoyable shopping experience.

"We're well aware that there is a challenge where the high street is concerned, and we hope this will be an important and positive step to regenerating the wider area."

One retailer who is taking the opportunity to make improvements to their store is Samantha Masters, who together with her husband Bradley are franchisees of the Subway unit at King's Walk.

Having owned the Gloucester store for three years, they are now making a significant investment into renovating and remodelling it, which they hope will go hand in hand with the regeneration.

"We deliberated for quite some time about whether it would be worth all the money and work to renovate the store," she said.

"But when we found out about all the regeneration and plans for the square, we decided it was a good time to make that investment.

"We are going to have a new fresh, modern and bright store which we hope will match that of a newly improved shopping centre and square.

"But it isn't just about shopping. We want a place for people to enjoy, that will bring more families in for events and a welcoming area with a real community feel to it."

Major new retailers movinh in like Deichmann shoes, and significant store expansions by the likes of Greggs, are already having a positive impact, according to Jo Knox, store manager at The Entertainer.

She said: "I have worked in different regions and seen high street and shopping centres being refurbished but what is great about this is that it's about the overall regeneration of the city centre.

"I'm really impressed with the plans for King's Square, with the fountains coming back in use and places for people to sit and enjoy.

"Having it as more of a destination will make a real difference.

"The improved bus station has made it more welcoming for people coming into the city centre but we still need to encourage more footfall to all the shops.

"But it's really positive to see other big names coming in to King's Walk and we hope this continues. We're excited about the future of the city centre now."

Plans for the King's Quarter scheme have already been submitted to Gloucester City Council.

If approved it will see new homes, office space, restaurants and shared workspace brought itno the city centre.

The plans include 150 new homes and 40,000 square feet of office space, shops, bars and eateries, bringing people to the area.

The square would then become a hub for pop-up markets and temporary events such as live performances or an outdoor cinema - all of which would breathe life into the area.

Peter White, King's Walk Shopping Centre Manager said: "We're really encouraged to hear from retailers and traders that they welcome the proposals for the overall regeneration, not just of the shopping centre, but the city centre as a whole.

"We are fully aware of the need to encourage more shoppers onto the high street generally but we think with the improvements already made to the car park, new facilities and new shop frontages at King's Walk, that we will be leading the way in bringing more visitors and residents back into the area and supporting our traders and local businesses."

Paul James, Gloucester City Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economy, said: "We are pleased to be working closely with our retailers and local businesses during the upgrade to King's Walk and the redesign of King's Square as part of the overall regeneration.

"They play a huge part in the next stage of what is set to be a vibrant and exciting place to shop, eat and visit and we welcome their support."

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