New public space is a big part of the plan. Credit: James Holyoak

Citrus heads towards £60m Prince Bishops Place overhaul

A hotel and student living are among elements proposed at the 1990s Durham shopping centre, now open for consultation.

Citrus said that the centre, opened in 1998, “is now a victim of structural changes in the retail sector over the past decade; exacerbated by Covid”.

Planning consultancy Lichfields is advising the developer.

With high vacancy rates, and little demand from national multiple retailers, Citrus intends to broaden the offer at the facility in a comprehensive redevelopment.

Chief among its proposals is attracting more local, independent retailers through offering smaller units as it seeks to regenerate an important city centre gateway site.

Along with this will be a 130-bedroom hotel, new leisure attractions and public spaces designed to increase dwell-time.

The largely empty upper floors of the centre would be redeveloped to introduce a new residential population, in the form of around 300 units of student accommodation.

Located between Elvet Bridge and Market Square, and overlooking the River Wear with extensive views of the historic castle and cathedral, the proposed £60m project would see the 400-space lower-level multi-storey car park also retained.

While some of the site will be demolished, most of the shopping centre’s existing below mall infrastructure will be retained and reconfigured. This will provide upward of 60,000 sq ft of retail space.

New walkways, pedestrian seating offering views across the River Wear, and a public square bordered by landscaping, will all be provided to attract more visitors and increase the amount of time they spend in the city centre.

The square, which will be able to cater for a range of public events, will be the centrepiece of the scheme, accommodating the main entrances to the hotel and student accommodation as well as a selection of busy shops, restaurants and family-focused leisure facilities.

The digital part of the consultation is now open and will run until 16 August. There will also be two drop-in events at the shopping centre, on 19 July and 9 August.

James Taylor, regional director for developer Citrus Group said: “We hope people across the city and wider region will recognise the opportunity our plans provide to reposition and reshape the future of Prince Bishops Place.

“We are very excited to be involved in such a transformational project and working with local communities and stakeholders over the coming weeks to hear their views as part of our pre-planning engagement. We encourage anyone with an interest to visit the website or attend a drop-in event to discover more”.

A formal planning application is expected to be submitted to Durham County Council in late 2023.

Robert Dibden, associate director at Lichfields Newcastle office, said: “This is an exciting regeneration project that will deliver new opportunities, jobs and economic prosperity. It would herald the transformation of an important part of Durham City Centre; so we are extremely keen to hear the views of as many local people and stakeholders as possible before final plans are submitted.”

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