Refusal of The Mall’s £300m expansion plan celebrated in Weston
- Credit: Archant
Weston-super-Mare’s business bosses are breathing a collective sigh of relief after plans to expand The Mall at Bristol’s Cribbs Causeway were torn up by the Government – preventing ‘£39million in trade from being lost’.
The out-of-town retail complex could have grown by 50 per cent with new shops, restaurants and a hotel after South Gloucestershire Council granted planning permission in 2016.
The scheme sparked concerns it would suffocate Weston’s regeneration efforts which have seen millions ploughed into projects like the revamps of Dolphin Square and the Italian Gardens in an attempt to boost trade.
But the £300million redevelopment plans were called in for further review by the Government, and Secretary of State James Brokenshire this week sent joint owners Intu and M&G back to the drawing board after a public inquiry.
A Government report said The Mall’s plans had been scrapped due to fears it would adversely affect other towns and cities, including Weston, across the South West.
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Weston MP John Penrose had called on the Government to deny the expansion throughout the four-year saga, and he told the Mercury he was ‘delighted’ by the decision.
He said: “The expansion plans threatened the excellent work our council, local businesses and many others have put in to regenerate Weston and attract new visitors.
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“High streets are struggling due to the rise of online shopping, and granting out-of-town retail parks like Cribbs permission to extend would only have squeezed them further.
“Weston’s businesses will breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that £39million in trade won’t be taken from our local economy, and investors looking at Weston won’t be given a reason to second guess setting up shop here.”
Elfan Ap Rees, North Somerset Council’s executive member for economic development, believes the expansion of Cribbs could have undermined efforts to revitalise Weston town centre.
He said: “At a time when we and other authorities are trying to regenerate town centres and reduce out-of-town car journeys, I believe a massive expansion of The Mall would be a mistake, so I support the decision.
“Instead it offers new opportunities for Weston and our Business Improvement District as we seek to encourage new retail in the town.”