People’s Market, Chester Street and Henblas Street

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  • #54680
    Alunh
    Alunh
    Participant

    All of these streets are creaking and shops appear to have disappeared. There are clearly several reasons for this, many of them which have been identified time after time on this Forum.

    The economic recession
    Eagles Meadow
    Changing retail patterns
    The closure of TJHughes
    The “lacking” of local retailers
    Rates
    Car Parking and access issues
    Anti-social practices

    I write on these sites because I love the town and would like to see it improve. I recognise that there are many long term problems and that many have concluded that Wrexham is a dustbin case. I don’t agree (though I do think it has major problems). I recognise that many people blame the Council. Sometimes I agree, often I don’t.

    On the issue of the People’s Market, however, I do think that, irrespective of the factors listed above (and others) that the Council have made a pigs-ear of the place (and surrounding quarter). Things are better under the new leadership but for years the place was allowed to deteriorate and looked like a tip. There was no leadership and the place was used as a cash cow. No investment and no management. Rents rose over time and these were (and are) well above the level of comparable premises let in the town itself. I know this because that was the precise reason that I relocated. The recent exodus of Hairdressers, Pet Shops, Mobile Phone Shops, et al have all been part linked to non-competitive terms and conditions. Each time one business leaves the People’s Market, the customers who were attracted specifically by that business are also lost to the other businesses.

    Nothing has been done over time to address this problem and it is clear that it is not confined to the People’s Market. The Market itself is evaporating but so too is the South Arcade where I was once based. Look along Chester Street and you will see the ripple effect. It is now heading up Henblas Street and goodness knows where it will end.

    The Council cannot be blamed for all of the problems that I listed at the beginning. Some realistic reappraisal of their basic approach to Rents, however, might offset the problem. Whilst any number of deals can, by the way, be struck short term for units in the Market, it is long term that businesses actually need. additionally, it is not just new blood that has to be coaxed with cheaper rents. Existing tenants might be retained if some timely slack was cut

    #69220
    Alunh
    Alunh
    Participant

    The news about Evans makes the picture in this part of town look bleak. I note lots of relocation going on in the last year in some parts, some businesses coming (on Island Green, for example) and others going.

    Clearly some parts of town are looking bleak and the lack of any movement on T J Hughes still problematic. I just hope that BHS are committed to the town

    #69226

    johnhoppy
    Participant

    The problem we have with the town centre is that more than a few landmark stores have either relocated or shut down. Woolworths, Boots, Marks and Spencer, and T J Hughes. The footfall from these stores has been lost and it is difficult to see how it can be recovered. As Alunh says, T J Hughes building is a big problem as it cuts the Market off from the rest of the town. A radical solution may be to relocate the market into this building and use the market completely as a cultural centre with cafe’s food court etc.

    #69228

    jimbow
    Participant

    Maybe now is the time before it is too late to try and revamp Henblas Street.The site of the old Hippodrome could be opened up and the Monday Market transferred to this area.On the other days maybe this could become the centre of promotional activities.It is clear that the large multiples cannot sustain either the rents or rates in this area.

    #69233

    99DylanJones
    Participant

    It is sad to say the likelihood of anything happening other than the odd shop coming and going is unlikely to change unless one of the large property developers came in and looked at the total area- something in the current economic/retail climate is highly unlikely to occur even with a project that had a mix of retail and residential. This is not a Council issue but one that is an economic crisis way above the level that they operate and would involve a number of the major property companies that invest in property for pension funds etc. With so many closures around the BHS store are they must be able to negotiate a much lower rental than they used to as the property company struggle to keep them.
    Solution total demolition of the whole area and rebuild with residential (and car parking). Sorry to those existing business but a relocation to areas with more footfall can only be good.

    #69221
    Alunh
    Alunh
    Participant

    @99dylanjones 15932 wrote:

    It is sad to say the likelihood of anything happening other than the odd shop coming and going is unlikely to change unless one of the large property developers came in and looked at the total area- something in the current economic/retail climate is highly unlikely to occur even with a project that had a mix of retail and residential. This is not a Council issue but one that is an economic crisis way above the level that they operate and would involve a number of the major property companies that invest in property for pension funds etc. With so many closures around the BHS store are they must be able to negotiate a much lower rental than they used to as the property company struggle to keep them.
    Solution total demolition of the whole area and rebuild with residential (and car parking). Sorry to those existing business but a relocation to areas with more footfall can only be good.

    I would agree with these comments Dylan for some areas and Pen Y Bryn and even King Street fit in with what you appear to suggest. I don’t think that it would be prudent to apply the same logic to Henblas Street and Chester Street because we run the danger of doing two things. One would be to divide the town almost in half, the other to consign what is left of the Wrexham Independent sector to the dustbin of History. This sector still exists in the three Markets and in the network of roads surrounding it. There are many excellent businesses in Charles Street, for example, Henblas Street, Chester Street, Bank Street and High Street. This is besides the very large number of traders. Additionally whilst the Post Office has recently made major investments in its Henblas Street branch, BHS still provides some sort of anchor to the area.

    The prospective Conservative MP for the town is apparently poised to chase the Council up to chase the landlords for empty property to pull their finger out and the Town Centre Manager needs to make this area a real priority. Many of the local landlords are cutting very good deals for their tenants whilst the Rates Review cannot come too soon.

    Jim (above) has made some excellent suggestions.

    #69234

    99DylanJones
    Participant

    People need to realise that Town Centre development and growth cannot be altered by any Council, Politician or prospective politician doing a survey. The independent work undertaken by Manchester Metropolitan in their townscape project (which the Council dint appear to have taken any notice of) plus all the data that is available to retailers now will determine the future shape.
    Large property investment companies and national retail chains will only invest if the numbers stack up based on factors such as footfall, housing rateable banding, age and cultural demographic and more crucial the drive time distance that is acceptable to the population of an area and what the competition is. If this does not show the appropriate rate of return on investment then don’t kid yourself they will not come to Wrexham.
    Subsidy carrots are normally only for 5 years so tat is not a sustainable option..

    #69229

    jimbow
    Participant

    @99dylanjones 15951 wrote:

    People need to realise that Town Centre development and growth cannot be altered by any Council.
    Dylan,Why do we have,and pay probably, around £30k per annum for a TOWN CENTRE MANAGER?and a more costly ECONOMIC DEVELOPEMENT DEPARTMENT.;);)

    #69235

    99DylanJones
    Participant

    What is the rate of return from the investment of £30k in a Council Officer? Would the rate of return be greater if the £30k businesses paid went into a pot controlled by the business sector? Surly a pot controlled by businesses would have a far greater value as their prime purpose would be profit motivation rather than a servant of the Council ticking boxes.

    #69230

    jimbow
    Participant

    @99dylanjones 15955 wrote:

    What is the rate of return from the investment of £30k in a Council Officer? Would the rate of return be greater if the £30k businesses paid went into a pot controlled by the business sector? Surly a pot controlled by businesses would have a far greater value as their prime purpose would be profit motivation rather than a servant of the Council ticking boxes.

    This would be a good question for the Town Centre Forum.:D

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