Retailers on Chester’s revamped Frodsham Street say business is beginning to get back to normal following major redevelopment on the street – but have called on shoppers to continue supporting them in the months ahead.
The popular route in to the city centre was partially closed to traffic back in June 2016 as part of Cheshire West and Chester Council’s £13.5m bus interchange project, allowing work to begin on transforming the road into a brand new attractive gateway into the city.
Problems with suppliers meant the original December 2016 completion date was missed and a number of retailers in the area reported a downturn in visitor numbers whilst work was on going, but the street finally re-opened in April 2017 and is now a welcoming shared space for pedestrians, vehicles and cyclists.
“Things are looking much better now the road works have gone and the new benches and art installations are in place,” said Barry Bellamy, franchisee at Steak ‘n Shake on Frodsham Street.
“Our restaurant only opened last December and we were expecting the redevelopment work to finish before the end of the year. Obviously we were disappointed that didn’t happen, but we don’t want to dwell on the past – we’re just pleased to see everything finished now.
“Things are beginning to get back to normal and our customer numbers are increasing. We’re hoping that continues because I still think a lot of people don’t actually realise that Frodsham Street has re-opened and the builders have moved on. We’ve been a street people have avoided for months because of the road works but now we’re a really welcoming gateway to the city and it’s a great place to be.”
Jason Rigby, director of Rigby Jewellers, echoed Mr Bellamy’s sentiments that it’s ‘great to see people walking up and down’ the street again.
He added: “It was always going to be a case of short-term pain, longer-term gain in my view but I think the finished product looks fabulous.
“Along with many other stores on the street, we saw a dip in trade whilst the work was ongoing so we really need customers to come back to us now that it’s re-opened.
“Obviously it’s still early days but we’ve seen an uplift in visitors during the last few weeks and we’re hoping that trend continues.”
Along with CH1ChesterBID – the city’s Business Improvement District – a number of businesses on Frodsham Street recently attended a drop-in session to share their thoughts on the development so far and find out more about the work still to be done on the bus interchange from Cheshire West and Chester Council.
The latest update suggests the new bus interchange will open in June 2017, replacing the Princess Street bus exchange and creating space for the £300m Northgate Development retail scheme.
“We’ve worked hard over the past nine months on behalf of our member businesses to improve communication from the developers and do everything in our power to speed up the work,” said Nick White, city centre manager at CH1ChesterBID.
“We were really pleased when the street re-opened back in April and it’s fantastic to hear that many businesses are now beginning to see an upturn in customer numbers. Once the bus interchange is complete, Frodsham Street will become an even busier gateway into the city centre and we’re hopeful that increase in visitor footfall will boost the bottom line of our members in that part of the city.”