Executive Summary – Key Outputs
To recap – the Masterplan identifies three phases of development:
A food store of 6,800sqm (2,600sqm at mezzanine level); a market of 4,356sqm; retail space of 6,270sqm; offices totalling 1,093sqm. An underground car park with 555 parking spaces (200 for food store). Sixty apartments.
A new hotel/JJB/offices/residential block; additional retail space of 1,425sqm; additional offices totalling 4,353 sqm. An additional eighty-five apartments.
A further ninety apartments.
Analysis – Retail Space totalling 7,695sqm
When Warrington became a New Town in 1968 its Development Corporation specifically encouraged the building of out of town retail areas accessed by new roads. The Gemini retail park, in particular, to the north-west of Warrington, today draws significant numbers of potential shoppers away from the town centre.
A Retail and Leisure Study (appendices) prepared for Warrington Borough Council in July 2006, identified the town centre’s main weakness as lack of diversity with 47% of the current shops being mainstream chain stores. Although the number of chain stores present is taken as an indicator of success in assessments of a town’s ‘health’, this does not take into consideration the needs of local small businesses and independent traders or that section of the community which prefers to support them.
Rents in Warrington were around £1,400 per square metre per year in 2006 which the report concludes ‘compares favourably’ with other towns in the region. In real terms, however, the independent retail trader faces around £30,000 a year minimum in rental for an average sized shop, favourable, perhaps, for a chain, but a considerable sum for a small business.