The town is undergoing a huge amount of building work which has been going for some years now. In the town centre, the old Arndale Shopping Centre has had an extension, a new frontage and a new name. Although it’s not all open yet it’s partially functioning. The new section is certainly shiny and spacious, if a tad COLD due to the lack of glass doors at the cavernous entrance, making the central shopping area something of a wind tunnel. It’s also all too noticeable how shabby the old section is, as you walk between the two. I gather there have been a few ‘snagging’ issues with damp and other problems causing new shops to shut their doors for periods in January. Nevertheless it is nice to have a Next, and an H&M, and when the pavements and roads are finished it will all look a lot better than it used to.
Here’s a short video artists’ impression of the new shopping centre:
And here’s a two-minute time-lapse video of the demolishing the old buildings and building the new one, taken from cameras place on the roof of the station and another on top of the Arndale carpark (it says it’s ‘to date’ but I think this was all prior to 2017):
Outside the shopping centre the unfortunately-named Terminus Road is having a major facelift, and the traffic in this busy section of the town around the station has been diverted and shuffled around temporary lights and orange cones for years. It’s promised to be over by July this year – who knows?? I’ll certainly be pleased when the access for taxis is reinstated and it doesn’t cost an extra £2 to get home from the station at night because of the long detour they are forced to take. And I’d be THRILLED if all those endless pedestrian barriers were to be removed from the junctions around the station, necessitating long walks to find a way through to crossing the road.
Then there’s the quarter around the theatres and Devonshire Park. The iconic Congress Theatre underwent a major external refurbishment a couple of years ago, and after reopening for a short while it was then closed again for the interior to be done up, and that’s also when major works to the roads around there began. A new visitor centre has been constructed, replacing an old prefab building, and the area outside the Congress looks like it’s going to be landscaped and very nice.
It’s due to open in a few weeks, but this was last weekend – yikes! Although as we found with our rather more modest garden project, these things often look a lot worse before they finally reveal their finished wondrousness.
Meanwhile round the corner the frontage of the Winter Gardens look rather sad. It’s probably a symphony of asbestos in there! I think it can’t be long before this is tackled.
So, to the seafront. At Wish Tower, not far from us, is the site of a former cafe which was never intended to be permanent, apparently. When it was demolished there was excited talk of a Rick Stein restaurant. But after the referendum that fell through, and now another restaurant is rising from the ashes. We’re not sure what it’s going to be, but we’re promised floor to ceiling glass windows so diners have full view of the sea. Sounds fantastic – we’re looking forward to ‘Fish @The Wish’ (or whatever) opening! Here’s how it looks so far…