The Square in Hale Barns is likely to suffer further decline over the coming years unless the current redevelopment proposals are approved, according to a survey of shopping centre users.
The survey, carried out by NEMS market research on behalf of Citybranch - the owner of the centre - showed how little the centre is used:
* More than half of all visitors stayed for fewer than 15 minutes.
* More than half spent less than £10.00 there.
* A third of visitors stated that visiting the Post Office was the main reason for their visit.
* 46% did not have a second reason for their visit.
* 80% travelled by car and would return straight home after their visit.
* More than 40% were 65 and over.
According to Adam Gross, director of Citybranch, the findings show that the centre as it stands will decline:
"Given the results of the survey, it is difficult to see how the existing retailers can look to the future with confidence. If most people are spending less than 15 minutes here, then they are probably visiting one particular shop, rather than browsing.
"An essential factor in the success of any retail development is its commercial viability for the individual retailer. We are already seeing retailers leaving The Square and can foresee a continuing decline if something drastic is not done to improve and extend its appeal.
"We believe that bringing Waitrose to The Square will encourage shoppers to do their main food shopping here, spending more time in the centre and thereby increasing custom and generating passing trade for all the retailers."
During 2006, two retailers left The Square, whilst a further retail unit remained empty. Citybranch suspects that there may be at least this number of departures during 2007.
Neil Bullock, director of Halba Travel Ltd., which left the centre in December, said: "We feel that to replace the existing increasingly tired buildings with a bright new development will transform The Square to the benefit of all concerned."
Andrew Drennan of Choice Greengrocers, a retailer in The Square, added: "If this scheme doesn't go ahead, the centre will deteriorate even further. Most of the flats above my shop are empty and if the area isn't regenerated soon, it's only a matter of time before all of the flats are empty. This is likely to attract vandals and crime.
"Something needs to happen to breathe life into The Square and the scale of the refurbishment required would make the cost implications for the local retailer unsustainable. I feel that the best alternative, therefore would be to proceed with the current proposals."
Citybranch's proposals are designed to revitalise the centre and bring:
* A Waitrose store, with the benefits of locally produced products and a comprehensive range of organic foods.
* Fourteen brand new and highly desirable retail units for lease to existing and/or new retailers.
* Free, secure and well lit underground parking that will continue to be made available for use by the community.
Safety will be improved by CCTV and on-site security personnel.
* Improved traffic flow on Hale Road.
* Additional local housing.
Citybranch's planning appeal concerning redevelopment of The Square will be heard on Tuesday 27th March 2007.
Images are available for hi-resolution download at http://www.thesquarehalebarns.co.uk/images/current/index.htm All are views of The Square as it currently stands.
For more information please contact:
Chris Warham or Deborah Garritty at Bell Pottinger North, on 01625 506 444, or email firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
The proposal to redevelop "The Square" in Hale Barns was originally submitted to Trafford Borough Council in January 2006 and was supported by planning officers. However, following a deferment, the application was not put before the Planning Committee until July 2006.
During the intervening period, a campaign mounted by local residents generated opposition to the redevelopment proposals.
In September 2006, Citybranch lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate. This will be now heard on the 27th March 2007.
A web site and mailing list for Citybranch's proposals is online at http://www.thesquarehalebarns.co.uk