Investors promise to splash £20 million into Cathedral Square scheme as plaza rebirth kicks off

INVESTORS behind Worcester’s emerging Cathedral Square project have revealed how a staggering £20 million will be sunk into transforming the shopping plaza – promising a “significant” overhaul.

Salmon Harvester, which will radically overhaul Cathedral Plaza as part of the big scheme, has revealed for the first time just how much cash is going on its rebirth.

Bosses at the firm say they believe Worcester people deserve better shopping and leisure facilities in the city centre, saying the time for an “improved and expanded” offer has arrived.

That includes diners in a series of new restaurants being able to overlook Worcester Cathedral.

The comments are a major sign of confidence in the city, which is facing ever-more competition from rival destinations like Birmingham and Cheltenham.

Last month Worcestershire County Council fully re-opened the new-look highway, completing the first phase of three different sections of work.

Salmon Harvester now says it needs just 18 months to transform its shopping plaza to include eight snazzy restaurants, more retail space, a gym, coffee shop and a reconfigured Travelodge hotel.

The £20 million spend will also see the outside of the plaza completely re-cladded so it appears virtually unrecognisable to how it used to be.

Developer Speller Metcalfe is now on the site and within the current covered compound a range of soft demolition work is getting underway.

We can also reveal how more extensive demolition efforts will start in January, with Salmon Harvester admitting the old shopping site was “blighted” by too many empty units.

After the second phase is done the third and final stretch, finished by the end of 2017, will see a major public piazza created outside a series of new al fresco dining restaurants.

Nick Webb, the asset manager at Salmon Harvester Opportunity Fund said: “We’re proud to be investing £20 million into Worcester and believe there is a demand for an improved and expanded retail and leisure offer within the city.

“The fact that we have already attracted some great operators and have the full backing of both the city and county council is a fantastic endorsement of this vision.”

The work on ripping out the old Cathedral island to alter the road network cost around £1.9 million.

Council chiefs connected to the scheme have now urged the company to do the city proud.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, the county council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure said: “It’s exciting that we’re now embarking on the next phase of this important project to revitalise the southern end of High Street.”

Councillor Marc Bayliss, the city council’s deputy leader, added: “The new-look Cathedral Square will bring a big boost to our city centre economy.

“It’ll bring in new business, creating great jobs and helping our vibrant city to attract more visitors and shoppers.”

Among the seven new restaurant spaces Byron Hamburgers, dining chain Cosy Club, Ask and steakhouse Miller & Carter have already signed up.

Salmon Harvester says “several” of the other available units are also currently under offer, meaning more announcements are imminent.

The current businesses like Pizza Express, the Travelodge and H&M will carry on trading while the work continues.