Exeter’s city centre will be undergoing redevelopment with the proposed renovation of Exeter’s Guildhall shopping centre, construction plans of an Ikea superstore and the possibility of Asda acquiring sites within the city for construction.
The owner of the shopping centre, Aviva Investors, is planning the first significant investment in the centre since it opened in 1976, planning to attract national and local businesses to the centre. The plans aim to attract retail and restaurant outlets and include significant changes in appearence to the Guildhall’s public areas.
Andrew McNeilly, centre manager, said: “People have been telling us they really like the plans and that it’s overdue. They are really happy that the owners are spending money on the centre, which many locals hold quite dear. What we want to do is make that bond even stronger and hopefully give them more to enjoy”.
City centre manager John Harvey said: “This significant investment is somewhat overdue and I hope the plans meet with the widespread support I would expect and that work can commence on turning them into reality as soon as possible”.
Alongside the redevelopment of the shopping centre comes the news that Ikea has acquired a construction site for a Exeter store. An Ikea spokesperson stated the company was “delighted that Exeter City Centre has supported our outline planning application”.
Gillian Drakeford, country manager for Ikea UK & Ireland, said: “We considered the various comments raised by local residents to ensure that our proposals met the needs of both Ikea and the surrounding community”.
There are also talks of Asda opening a supermarket in Exeter in the site of the Royal Academy for Deaf Education on Topsham Road. The supermarket giant is hoping to capitalise on the school’s reported wish to move to the proposed Hill Barton site, pending a planning application and an 18 month construction period.
Oliver Jones, property communications manager for Asda, said: “Asda has been interested in coming to Exeter for a long time. We frequently evaluate sites in the city and hope one day to be able to bring our famous low prices to the area. We’ve committed as a business to providing 5,000 jobs in the next year, and we’re very keen to invest in the area”.
A third year English student told Exeposé: “It’s really exciting to see our University city being so extensively developed. An expanding university, with all the extra students this expansion entails, needs a thriving city centre and so this development is a welcome move. The addition of Asda, another cheap supermarket, will also surely help students to budget their purchasing of food and drink”.
Louis Doré, News Editor