Evesham’s Riverside Centre was previously owned as a part of a retail portfolio managed by Aviva who sold the centre last year for circa £4 million. The sale of the Riverside Shopping Centre continued the regeneration of the retail offer in Evesham. Wychavon District Council was involved in facilitating this major investment in the town centre in an effort to reduce empty shops and challenge the negative perceptions held by some national retail and leisure chains which put them off investing in the area.
Attracting shoppers, particularly those who are more affluent is also essential to keeping town centres alive, especially given they are in plentiful supply locally making up nearly 50% of Evesham’s catchment, but who were increasingly choosing to shop elsewhere.
Solutions such as town centre events and start-up grants to independent retailers have resulted in increased occupancy and evidence of the underserved customer demand presented to national retailers encouraged Waitrose to express an interest in a site occupied by Evesham Fire Station.
Shawn Riley, Inward Investment Manager for Wychavon said “We’ve been at the forefront of the Riverside sale and bringing Waitrose to Evesham. This has made it much easier to attract other retailers to the town. Residents will have seen new restaurants, bars and venues opening and we have worked to support these new businesses. Confidence in the town as a place to invest has started to increase and we’re hopeful we will continue to see more of this kind of investment.”
You may remember that Wychavon provided the up-front funding to relocate the fire station and have funded the building of and ultimately the leasing of the Waitrose store set to open in 2018. As a result of this investment, interest in other parts of the town, including the Riverside Centre, increased and we were approached by a number of parties with plans designed to promote and regenerate the Riverside Shopping Centre.
We recognised the sale of the Riverside as integral to our own investment in the town centre and shared its ambitions for the site. Chase Commercial demonstrated a vision for the Riverside’s role in the wider regeneration of the town centre.
Chase secured the purchase of the site in September 2017and is now considering all options to regenerate the Riverside and revitalise the heart of Evesham’s town centre. The new owners have been clear that it is the council’s and Waitrose’s investment in Evesham that has demonstrated the investment potential that Evesham town centre holds.
Shawn continued “We have a leadership role to play in securing the future of our town centres. Approaches are obviously dependent on the context and situation but strategies including funding research to help the property market, local businesses, local residents and councillors understand the true issues facing a town centre. Understanding what motivates investors to choose a location and take the message to them can really have an impact. We’re doing all we can to pursue this.”