New look Barking shopping centre ‘could rival Westfield’
PUBLISHED: 07:00 31 August 2016
The redevelopment of Vicarage Field is being touted as the “first big step” in regenerating the town centre.
The new-look Barking mall would add £50million to the annual local economy and create 1,000 jobs – half for local residents – under plans submitted to the council last week.
Barking and Dagenham Chamber of Commerce president Mark Bass hopes the 276,000 sq ft of retail floorspace could lead to the return of some well-known high street names – and convince shoppers to stay local rather than travelling to nearby Westfield Stratford City.
“It could well be the first big step in getting the town centre properly regenerated,” he said. “We want to see it return to its heyday and bring shops like Marks and Spencer back.
“I don’t see why that whole area around the station can’t one day rival Westfield. It’s a little bit more compact, but why can’t it be better?”
The 5.2-acre Ripple Road site would feature 850 homes built around five central buildings, rising up to 36 floors.
Alongside a cinema, music venue and shops, the plans include an emphasis on creating space for restaurants.
Mr Bass said recent success stories have proved the importance of the dining-out economy.
“If you look at the Pipe Major [in Dagenham, which opened last year] every time I’ve been there it’s been full because people want nice places to go and eat with their families,” he added.
“There’s a real need for good restaurants and if we build them it will attract more people in – the more there are the better it is.”
Alongside a commitment to creating “extensive public realm and green space”, the plans feature a hub for 286 bicycles and a continuous route from Abbey Grounds to the train station.
Peter Cornforth, retail director for owners Benson Elliot, believes the plans are crucial for the area’s development.
“This is an exciting milestone for our redevelopment plans, which we believe will support the creation of a vibrant town centre in Barking,” he said.
Residents can have their say by visiting lbbd.gov.uk by September 15. A decision on the plans is expected to be made by the end of November.
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