£32m retail park would '˜harm' city

Research ahead of a planning inquiry today suggests a new £32m retail park on the edge of Hull would seriously damage the city centre.

A new retail park in Kingswood would do serious harm to Hull city centre, now on a 'positive trajectory' after its City of Culture year, opponents say

The study commissioned by NewRiver, owner of the Prospect Centre, says the city already has an oversupply of discount stores, fashion shops and furniture shops - “likely target categories” for the new Kingswood retail park.

LDC Research said the out-of-town scheme was likely to lead to “a rise in voids combined with a fall in footfall and inbound investment as the main retail pitch shifts out of town.”

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

It comes ahead of a hearing by a Government inspector into an appeal by developers at Hull’s Guildhall against the refusal of plans for ten retail units, cafes and restaurants next to Kingswood Retail Park.

The research also says Hull has the second highest provision of out-of-town retail units of the GB’s top 20 retail centres.

It has also twice the national average of total units (7.7 per cent compared to the GB average of 3.5 per cent) that have been vacant for more than three years.

Paul Wright, a Director of NewRiver, said: “This report paints a clear picture of the retail landscape in Hull and presents overwhelming evidence of the seriously negative impact additional out-of-town provision would have on the city centre.

“Hull has seen significant inward investment in the last few years in many sectors, including the £25m programme of improvements to the public realm, and benefited from visitors drawn by City of Culture.

“There is now an exciting opportunity for sustained regeneration, but this is dependent upon a healthy retail environment in the city centre. Approval for the expansion of retail at Kingswood would potentially affect further city centre investment at a time when Hull is on a positive trajectory.

“There has been very little evidence of viability from the developers at Kingswood, but approval of their plans could lead to a sustained period of uncertainty and subdued growth anywhere in the Hull catchment, while people wait to see what happens.”