A major shopping centre has unveiled its most significant facelift since the 1990s.
The front of Brighton’s Churchill Square Shopping Centre would be completely revamped under new plans, along with the creation of a new flagship store.
Owners Standard Life Investments revealed the proposal, which would see floor to ceiling glass installed along the entire 100-metre Western Road facade.
Developers say that the clear laminated frontage would provide an “exciting” look and encourage retailers to “come up with imaginative shopfronts”.
At the heart of the Western Road facade would be the centre’s new flagship Topshop/Topman store.
The proposal signals the end of the centre’s commitment to a wider redevelopment of the site, which includes the Brighton Centre conference hub.
Brighton and Hove City Council has already indicated that it favours moving away from a wholesale redevelopment to improvements over a 25-year period.
The owners added that Brighton’s competition is not Crawley, Horsham, Worthing and Eastbourne but London and Southampton.
The centre, which is between Western Road and the Brighton Centre on the seafront, was opened in 1967.
It underwent a major refurbishment in the 1990s, reopening as Brighton’s prime shopping centre in 1998 with more than 90 shops on two levels, a Debenhams department store and parking for 1,600 cars.
However this saw a loss of office space which developers claim is “noticeable” to nearby buildings.
The fresh plans would see a minimal increase in actual shopping space, with the focus instead on the look of the building.
The owners have said that the centre’s current set-up “gives the impression of small retail units which do not reflect the scale and quality of the shopping behind”.
Ed Jenkins, head of UK Retail for Standard Life Investments, said: “The new (Topshop) store would significantly enhance the retail offer for shoppers, adding to the existing list of leading international retailers already in Churchill Square.
“We also remain committed to exploring the concept of a significant extension to Churchill Square and to working with the council in an effort to deliver the optimum solution, over time.”
Business leaders have welcomed the news as a sign that Brighton and Hove is a major player in the retail market.
Gavin Stewart, chairman of the Brighton Business Improvement District, said: “In terms of the Brighton Improvement District, Churchill Square is in our bid area and we welcome any improvements to the city’s infrastructure.
“Brighton is a smart, classy and cosmopolitan city and any development that can enhance that is great news.”
Talking point: To what extent is the expansion of Churchill Square a sign of confidence in Brighton as a retail centre?
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