Transformation of Bircherley Green takes further steps forward
The transformation of the Bircherley Green Shopping Centre is gathering pace, with the construction of a new Premier Inn hotel soon to begin and two more occupiers signed up to the long-awaited regeneration scheme.
The project is being delivered in two phases. Phase one will see buildings on the corner of Railway Street and Bircherley Street, including the former Lloyds Bank, replaced with the new hotel and associated restaurant, alongside a retail unit. Phase two will see the redevelopment of the remainder of the shopping centre, including the former Waitrose store, the riverside area, the car park and bus waiting area. This phase will deliver modern retail space on a new shopping street, a riverside public square with cafés and restaurants, and new homes in a mix of 1, 2 and 3-bedroom apartments, as well as a refurbished car park and improved bus station facilities.
Phase one is now well underway. Demolition and archaeological mitigation are close to completion, paving the way for construction of the 86-bedroom Premier Inn hotel to begin in the spring. The development team behind the project, Wrenbridge and Savills Investment Management, are in advanced discussions with contractor McLaughlin and Harvey who is set to be appointed to deliver the project.
Meanwhile, a retailer and an office occupier have signed up to phase two of the project. In a vote of confidence in the regeneration scheme, the development team has agreed terms with the first retailer to commit to the redeveloped shopping centre.
In parallel, a new office occupier looking to open a regional office in Hertford has also signed an agreement to lease space within the development. A planning application has been submitted to East Herts District Council (EHDC) to replace 14 of the 70 proposed apartments to provide this office space. This application is one of several that the development team has submitted to EHDC which would help improve the viability of the scheme and ensure it can be delivered despite the current uncertainty in the UK retail market.
Since 2017, Wrenbridge has also been actively engaging with the NHS about the potential to bring a new health facility to Hertford town centre and these discussions are ongoing.
John McHale, director at Wrenbridge, said: “Despite a few delays to the project during demolition, archaeological mitigation and discussions with EHDC, we are on track to deliver the full regeneration scheme by late 2020 / early 2021.
“We’re soon to start construction of the new hotel and the commitment of Premier Inn to Bircherley Green has been bolstered by two important occupiers for phase two. Together this puts us in a very strong position to attract further national brands and other occupiers suited to Hertford.
“We’ve always been open about the challenges of bringing a contemporary shopping centre into a historic market town, especially during a turbulent time for the whole UK retail market. That’s why we’ve taken a flexible approach, explored changes to the scheme, and continue to work with the council and other local organisations to make sure this ambitious project can happen.”
The Bircherley Green car park is now closed and will re-open once the Premier Inn is complete and the car park has been refurbished. Improvements to the bus station, including new waiting facilities, will also take place as part of phase two.