How Chapelfield helped put Norwich on the retail map
PUBLISHED: 15:17 26 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:17 26 June 2020
With the future of Norwich’s Chapelfield shopping centre unclear, we take a look back at its history.
The owner of Chapelfield, Intu, has gone into administration but has said is shopping centres can continue to trade for the ‘time being.’
The centre opened to a big fanfare on September 21, 2005, with its new three-floor flagship House of Fraser department store immediately catapulting Norwich to the centre of the retail map. It was one of the largest shopping centres to open in Britain at that time with 80 shops and 17 cafés and restaurants.
Together with Norwich’s other shopping mall, now called Castle Quarter, suddenly the city became a serious contender as a place to live, work or visit. With Chapelfield’s restaurants both inside and outside and in easy walk of the centre, there was a real buzz and suddenly a vast choice for local people who’d been used to very little variety. For Norwich to get a large House of Fraser was at the time a big coup and then other huge names such as the Apple store and Disney – before people would have had to travel to Cambridge or even London to get this retail experience.
The shopping centre had an immediate affinity with Norwich too because it was built on the site of the former Nestle and Rowntree Mackintosh chocolate factory and when it was created, it rekindled many memories. But it also gave a huge boost to Norwich’s economy bringing jobs and also with its properties built around the development, new homes, commercial opportunities as well as boosting tourism.
Five years ago it held a big 10 year celebration with people dressed as moonwalkers welcoming in the first shoppers and a dazzling catwalk show held in its centre. It was the hub of excitement bringing a whole new lifestyle Norwich hadn’t experienced before.
But over the past few years, with the nature of shopping changing, and the rise in popularity of coffee shops and more of an ‘experience’ when buying, the centre came under fire for not being individual enough. It worked on this as seen by the opening of local independent retailer Lisa Angel who has a store there.
And then came the biggest blow of all – coronavirus. Not only did this mean shops were closed but it also meant rent payments were in doubt going forward. It was the beginning of the end.
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