Royal Victoria Place facelift gets underway

Royal Victoria Place facelift gets underway

McLaren has begun construction on the upgrade, working overnight to replace the flooring throughout the building and the installation of new seating areas and bespoke rooflight features.

During the next 18-weeks, the company will remove the innermost staircase to make way for structural alterations that will open up the ground floor space for more retail units and enable the introduction of a locally designed art installation.

The contractor will also upgrade lighting and air conditioning systems and redecorate all internal public areas.

Jay Newman, south managing director at McLaren, said: “Royal Tunbridge Wells is attracting a great deal of investment to enhance and improve its public realm and create a better visitor experience.

“As updated and modernised public areas encourage more people to visit the town centre, we are delighted to be able to bring our retail sector experience to this renovation project at Royal Victoria Place.

“When complete, the works will see an improved shopping experience for local people and visitors to the town. The elements of construction work we are undertaking mean British Land can make the best use of the space, installing up to 17 temporary, flexible kiosks and shopping units alongside experiential, engaging artwork.

“By working with British Land to organise an overnight working schedule, we are minimising the impact to shoppers and retailers, while carrying out vital improvement works. We are extremely excited to start work and continue our great working relationship.”

However, the overhaul of the shopping centre falls short of what was planned by previous owners of the site.

Before selling to British Land, Hermes drew up proposals for a £70million upgrade that would have included a cinema and restaurant extension.

Those plans were shelved by British Land, who instead opted for the £11million refurbishment, which is expected to be completed in the spring next year, as well as the creation of a food market in Ely Court – which is said to have boosted footfall into the shopping centre by ten per cent.

More than 20 units currently sit empty in RVP although British Land have indicated that new retailers are interested in moving into the centre.

However, 12 months ago, the then head of retail at British Land, Darren Richards, told the Times that more shops would move into the centre ‘within a year’.

Since then, the shopping centre has lost a number of high street names and failed to fill units left abandoned by retailers such as BHS, which closed in 2016.

There is growing speculation that major developers have ‘lost interest’ in Tunbridge Wells after the borough council ditched plans for a £108miilion theatre complex.

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