Horsefair owners state what many already think: that out-of-town retail park could threaten viability of town centre

Wisbech mayor Samantha Hoy took this 'selfie' for a Horsefair Shopping Centre self photo competition Wisbech mayor Samantha Hoy took this 'selfie' for a Horsefair Shopping Centre self photo competition

Thursday, May 15, 2014
4:45 PM

An 85,000 square ft out-of-town retail park – being built on the site of the former Tesco store in Sandown Road, Wisbech - threatens the town centre, say owners of the Horsefair Shopping Centre.

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NewRiver Retail fears the competition particularly as “a number of leases within Horsefair are shortly due to expire. We are aware that very competitive rates are being offered at the out of town retail units associated with Tesco development”.

NewRiver’s agents, G L Hearn Ltd, explained their fears in an application before Fenland Council to allow a national restaurant chain to open a café at the Horsefair.

Hearn says retailers are not exactly flooding to make an offer on their empty unit which has been vacant since last March – it was formerly used by Dorothy Perkins and Burton.

Apart from one possibility “there have been very few inquiries and no genuine interest”.

Hearn says the change of use, which needs planning approval from Fenland Council to switch it to a café, points out that Wisbech “does not currently appear on many potential occupiers’ requirements lists”.

The company, in its design statement to planners, says the “set back of the unit and lack of prominence when approached from Market Place has been cited as unattractive to potential occupiers.”

NewRiver Retail says that although council policy would not normally allow non-shopping uses within the primary shopping centre, it was vital to maintain the viability and vitality of existing centres.

The company cites allowing a Costa Coffee outlet nearby as part of the council’s flexibility in this area and even if another café opens, the Horsefair would predominantly remain a shopping centre.

NewRiver says the equivalent of 10.5 full time jobs will be created if the café gets the go ahead – the town council has supported the change of use.

The out of town park – to be called Cromwell Retail Park fronts the B198 Cromwell Road and is opposite the new Tesco Extra and 8 screen cinema.

Agents for Cromwell Retail Park say on their website that Iceland, Poundstretcher, Bensons for Beds and Next are all lined up to go in there with four other units still to let.

6 comments

  • When I first knew of the plans for the New retail Park. I always considered it would suck what little life there was left out of this town. However the owners of the Horsefair should now get real and compete or better the rents being offered by the old Tesco site rather than bleat about the cheap rents, which have to say the least from what I have been told excessive. I rent out a 2 small premises and a flat in Blackfriars Road and I beleive a little of something is better than a lot of nothing. So the owners of the Horsfair can do one of 2 things. Continue to charge high rents and watch their shops quickly enter or become competetive themselves with rents and initsel help Wisbech. The choice is quite clearly theirs. Cllr David Patrick

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    Susan patrick

    Saturday, May 17, 2014

  • Please, please, PLEASE open a rose tinted spectacle shop...I would love some exactly like yours. Virtually everyone I speak to now avoids the town centre, only visiting for financiallegalmedical purposes.

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    Fen Frank

    Saturday, May 17, 2014

  • Maybe the Horefair Shopping Centre could put their own house in order before wondering why retailers aren't flooding into their empty properties. They have one of the worst car parks I've ever used, their "flower beds" are full of weeds, there's rubbish everywhere, strange looking characters on every corner, and the whole place has an air of neglect about it - maybe this is all designed so it fits in better with the rest of the town. Compare this with the new Tesco and I know where I'll be doing all my shopping. On the plus side for the town I see the old bridge was being resurfaced today so maybe will soon reopen. Just need to resurface the appalling South Brink and demolish Constantine House now.

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    Citizen of EUSSR

    Friday, May 16, 2014

  • Quite why anyone would choose to battle their way through all the traffic jams and risk life and limb on the bizarre layout of the Freedom Bridge roundabout just to visit Wisbech town centre is beyond me. Once in the town your only choice is between the charity shops, building societies, banks plus a few derelict boarded up shops with buddleia plants growing out of them. Or of course the foul language of the tattooed obese locals or the street drinking and urinating other residents. Or maybe I caught Wisbech on a bad day? No, for me it's far more preferable to visit the lovely clean environment of a nice new out of town development.... or better still, just keep going until you arrive at somewhere much nicer like Kings Lynn, Peterborough, Cambridge or Norwich!

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    Norfolk and Good

    Friday, May 16, 2014

  • speaking for myself, I just cant see it. I tend to avoid the big chains selling low quality high priced products made in China,which I choose not to buy because of the terrible human and animal rights in that country. Wandering around these soulless developmwnts which exist only to part you from your money, as opposed to wandering about town, meeting up with friends for coffee and a cake in one of the many independently owned (by immigrant people)coffee shops, browsing charity shops for my Summer ensemble, buying secondhand books in the aforementioned shops and siting on a bench in the marketplace, enjoying a rest in the sunshine, chatting to someone also sitting whom you have never met before.Those of us who aren't fond of the 'throw money at us and get out' type of large national shops, will always prefer the town centre.Sure there are some shops out of town which are convenient, especially since my favourite street (Norfolk street) is usually snarled up with traffic (please pedestrianise it and make it a cafe culture down there), but in the main, town centre shopping is a pleasurable, gentle affair for those who want to amble, natter, meet up with friends and enjoy the experience.I really don't think the out of town place will be a threat.Especially since the toen has so much to offer by way of little shops, the auction rooms twice a week, the produce auction twice a week, plant sales and just about anything you would want or need. Did I mention that I love Wisbech?

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    fenwoman

    Friday, May 16, 2014

  • Licensing should let this through. There's really no good reason not to. If it's who we all think it is, it'll help footfall to the whole Town Centre area and that's a good thing.

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    Steve Tierney

    Thursday, May 15, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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