10 June 2014

John Grinnell: Committed to investing in Princesshay for the long-term

Retail is an extremely fast paced industry and it’s changed markedly in recent years.

Shoppers in the 21st century are looking for more than just a functional shopping experience. They want holistic destinations which offer restaurants, shops, and other leisure activities like cinemas, bars and cafes. The increased desire for leisure as part of the retail experience also means people want to spend longer in shopping destinations, which means investing to create accessible, attractive public spaces is essential in delivering an overall environment where people want to spend their valuable leisure time. Essentially, all of these considerations are about creating unique experiences that can only be enjoyed in a physical environment.

Both The Crown Estate and TH Real Estate are leading commercial property investors, which specialise in managing and developing successful retail and leisure destinations. That being the case, we’re focused on understanding these fast moving trends and ensuring that our assets lead the market in terms of meeting the needs of modern shoppers. In Exeter our strategy for Princesshay has three key elements; continuing to enhance the retail mix, expanding the restaurant and leisure offer and improving the public spaces. This is a strategy we believe will ensure Princesshay remains the region’s best retail and leisure destination and an asset which continues to create wider benefits for the city.

Late last year we set out to consult Exeter’s local community on our plans for the redevelopment of the bus station to provide new restaurants and a cinema, set amongst revitalised public spaces. Both the results of our consultation and our analysis of general retail trends and consumer preferences locally supported our belief that these are the right proposals for the site, so we’re pleased this week to have submitted an outline planning application.

Projects like these are extremely complex, technical challenges so it was important we took the time necessary to get the plans right. Similarly, because schemes like this are so complex, there will be further planning and design issues to consider going forward, as well as commercial decisions which need to be taken before that first spade can go in the ground.  Whilst there’s still more work to be done, putting in an outline planning application is a really important first step, emphasising our commitment to working with partners like the council to bring forward a scheme for this important city gateway site.

Our plans for Princesshay don’t just stop at the bus station proposals though. Having signed Jamie’s Italian earlier in the year, which has proved to be really popular with shoppers, we’re looking forward to delivering more exciting new brands in the next few months, which will really enhance the offer for shoppers.

Princesshay is an important asset for the city centre, supporting jobs and investment in the local economy, as well as providing a fantastic experience to visitors from Exeter and beyond. Whether it’s through bringing new retailers to the existing shopping centre, or exploring developments like Princesshay Leisure, we’re committed to investing in the centre for the long-term to ensure it continues to excel.

John Grinnell, Deputy Head of Development and Project Management, Urban

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