October 23 2014 Latest news:
Ben Woods, Business writer
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
More than 120 jobs could be created in Norwich as part of a multi-million pound project to transform part of the Castle Mall.
Owners InfraRed have announced plans to attract six businesses into a new restaurant quarter surrounding the shopping centre’s Timberhill entrance.
But the move has sparked concerns about the future of the Timber Hill Health Centre, which faces having to find a new home after the shopping complex did not renew its lease.
Paul McCarthy, general manager of the Castle Mall, said the investment would make it more attractive to families.
It comes as InfraRed confirmed that it would spend a further £700,000 shoring up the mall’s multi-storey car park – with work set to begin later this month.
NHS bosses have expressed their fears about the future of a Norwich medical centre after its lease was not renewed.
Castle Mall owners InfraRed claim to be in discussions with the Timber Hill Health Centre to move it to a “larger and more central site” within the shopping complex.
But Katie Norton, director of commissioning for NHS England, said the decision to move to a new location had been rejected by the centre.
The practice is currently located in the proposed area for a new restaurant quarter on level 4 of the Castle Mall.
“We are very disappointed in the decision of the owners of The Mall not to renew the lease,” she said.
“We recognise the important services provided by Timber Hill Health Centre and we are committed to working with Timber Hill and the Clinical Commissioning Groups in Norfolk to identify options for the future.
“It is important to recognise that Timber Hill is a purpose-built medical centre and moving it will cause considerable disruption.
“At this time, the option of moving to an alternative location in the Mall has been rejected by Norwich Practices Limited on the basis of the significant additional cost associated with the option that has been put forward by the landlord.”
She added that she was disappointed that InfraRed had submitted a planning application for the area used by the health centre without consultation.
Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, said: “While I welcome investment to the city centre, I know that anyone coming from the north side of Norwich valued a conveniently placed walk in centre.
“We fought tooth and nail to stop the centre moving from Dussindale, and at that time arguments were put that the city centre was a better location.
“I am poised to work with the health authority to find a solution for my constituents.”
“These plans are a fantastic way to improve Castle Mall for the people and businesses of Norwich and demonstrate our commitment to the local community,” Mr McCarthy said.
“We’re proud that Castle Mall continues to be a major provider of employment to local people and we’re delighted that, when the new Restaurant Quarter opens, over 1,000 jobs will be supported by businesses here”.
Businesses in Timberhill welcomed the project yesterday for its potential to drive up footfall and boost city traders in the nearby area.
InfraRed said the restaurant quarter would support 50 jobs during construction and 120 full-time and part-time positions once complete – if backed by city council planners.
A major refurbishment of the main car park at the Castle Mall shopping centre will begin at the end of this month.
Owners InfraRed are
investing £700,000 to upgrade the most frequently used levels of Car park 1, A-K, as part of an ongoing works improvement programme.
The work will begin on April 22 and is expected to continue until the end of September.
During the refurbishment a number of car parking spaces or levels will be out of use and the car valet will not be on offer while the work takes place.
Vicky Merrison, marketing manager at Castle Mall said, “This investment in Castle Mall’s car park will ensure it remains an effective facility for our customers for many years to come.
“As the essential work takes place there will inevitably be some disruption and we ask for our customers understanding in following the traffic
management systems that will be put in place for the period.”
Castle Mall’s website www.castlemallnorwich.co.uk will be updated weekly with the car park refurbishment plans to ensure customers are kept updated.
For more information, call Castle Mall on 01603 766430.
Stefan Gurney, executive director of Norwich Business Improvement District, said: “This project is reflecting what we are now seeing across the high street – and what we have been aiming for in Norwich.
“We saw a good while ago now how properties have been changing from a retail classification to a mixed use, which has brought more restaurants into the city.
“It reflects the leisure aspect of socialising in bars and restaurants alongside shopping, which is what people are looking for.
“This new project has the opportunity to connect with the Westlegate Tower – which is coming on line soon – John Lewis and the shops on Timberhill.
“And if it can help to draw different types of offerings to the city as well then that is a positive step as well.”
Norwich City Council backed a £1m investment project to revamp the Castle Mall entrance last month after previous designs were rejected.
Ivan Brown, right, of The Murderer’s pub, said: “There are two potential benefits. The area will no longer be deserted and it’s better to see jobs and businesses which is beneficial to Timberhill. The foot flow near Timberhill creates interest and an added variety to Norwich which I think is very important.
More people drawn to an area can only be a good thing. I also think that there are night time benefits as well. Not everybody that goes out in Norwich wants to go down Prince of Wales Road. It’s good to see something happening.”
Amy Goulding, of Ward and Wright shoe shop, said: “It’ll be fantastic for the local economy. It needs something to stop the part around it looking quite so desolate and I think it’s an ideal place for cafés and bars.”
Laura Daynes, of Waterlily Tanning & Beauty, added: “Anything that brings more jobs to the area can only be a good thing. More businesses means more jobs.”
Raymond Joscelyne, owner of Design House Norwich, said: “I think it will be a good thing as at the moment it’s very empty. It should draw people to the area and I believe that anything is better than an empty space. It’s a good place for restaurants and as such makes sense. We’ve not heard anything official but from what we’ve heard it’ll be great for the local economy.”
Dorothy Thompson of children’s clothes shop Cocolino, said: “I’m thrilled about it because its been very quiet since work began. I’ve been here almost two years now. In terms of the sort of restaurants I’d be glad if it’s not going to be fast food outlets.”
• What do you think about the redevelopment plans? Email business writer Ben Woods at email@example.com