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Freshney Place bosses push for a hold on new retail developments in town centre until 2026

Freshney Place bosses have said that they do not want to see any "comprehensive" retail developments made in Grimsby Town Centre until 2026.

Freshney Place bosses push for a hold on new retail developments in town centre until 2026

Speaking at a Planning Inspectorate hearing to discuss the North East Lincolnshire Local Plan, a representative of the shopping centre raised concerns over two sites allocated in the draft for "comprehensive retail development", saying it could have a negative impact on centre, which is already under pressure with increasing retail vacancies.

Mark Harris, speaking on behalf of Grimsby Shopping Centre Ltd, who own and manage Freshney Place said he was concerned over land allocated outside of the primary shopping district, feeling that if retail developments were to go ahead it could result in retail migration, and further stores leaving Freshney Place.

He felt that the council should focus its retail development on the already vacant units in the town centre, questioning why it would be looking to create other retail developments, when there appears to be little or no demand for new retailers to come into the town centre.

He compounded this by highlighting that they have received no bidders on the large retail space made vacant by BHS after its closure, and that in the past five or six years, the vacancy rate in Freshney place has risen from five per cent to 26 per cent.

While Mr Harris was grateful for the council's support in developing the town centre, in terms of the proposed cinema and dining development, which should help increase investment and retail use, he felt that a couple of economic cycles should be allowed to pass, to provide evidence of any further retail need that may derive from that.

His primary concern was the allocation of two sites, one on Garth Lane/ Alexandra Dock and another south of Bethlehem Street, referred to as The Station Quarter, which has been earmarked for "comprehensive" retail development.

He wanted clarification in the new development plan that work would not start on these sites until 2026, because through his interpretation of the document, it could start immediately.

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Representatives from Engie at the hearing said that the sites had been allocated for retail development on the premise that they would be designed for higher end and independent shopping facilities, similar to the Abbey Gate area of Bethlehem Street, and did not feel that any development would have an adverse effect on Freshney Place.

Furthermore, they felt that plans to regenerate the St James area of Top Town and its surrounding infrastructure, would attract further investment and people into the town centre, which would in turn lead to the need for more shopping outlets in the town.

They also felt that plans to create a new hotel beside the Cartergate building would further add to an increase in use of the town centre.

Previously, Freshney Place objected to plans by Ramsdens to redevelop its main store into a multi-retail offering- saying the development would be damaging to the centre and could put the planned Primark extension and Riverhead development in jeopardy.

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