Published on Friday, 6th October 2016

 

Work is about to start on a series of minor improvements to Commercial Road aimed at supporting the retail centre until something finally happens at the Northern Quarter.

 

The £300,000 scheme reflects what shop managers have told the council will most help their businesses survive. The budget frankly isn’t very much and won’t buy radical changes, but it is still better to do something than nothing.

 

The street furniture will be rearranged to create some wider open spaces, there will be some very limited tree planting, the public art by the Cascades entrance will be removed – frankly the general feeling is that it’s not very good anyway – and there will also be some new, high quality natural stone paving at both ends of Commercial Road to mark the entrance and exit to the pedestrian area.

 

I have been very involved with this project and I pushed for it to be a part of the 2015/6 budget. The driver for doing this is that any new retail space is years away. Even if the Local Enterprise Partnership agrees to help fund a new road scheme, a combination of a slowdown in business investment, the planning cycle and construction times mean the earliest a new centre could open is in five years time – and that is optimistic. Until then we have to make the best of what we’ve already got.

 

This money is a one-off, so apparent alternatives such as subsidising retail space or parking charges, actually aren’t alternatives at all. Spending the money over say 10 years would leave so little as to have no effect at all.

 

 

Tags: City Centre, Northern Quarter