Worcester has been awarded £17.9million from central Government’s Future High Streets Fund. The investment will transform the northern part of the city centre into an exciting leisure, cultural, entertainment and residential quarter.
Over the next three years, the “northern gateway” area around Angel Place will be transformed, stimulating growth through vibrant leisure facilities and new opportunities for people to live in the heart of the city.
This exciting regeneration will bring people together to have fun - and will create more jobs in the leisure, hospitality, retail and construction sectors. It will also see Worcester’s Swan Theatre relocate to a dynamic and prominent new venue.
The work is planned for completion by March 2024.
This major development will complement The Arches Worcester, the refurbishment of Worcester’s Victorian railway arches, located less than five minutes’ walk from Angel Place.
The City Council’s objectives in investing the Future High Streets Fund money is to create new leisure uses, activities and event space in Angel Place and the surrounding areas, alongside new performance space and commercial opportunities.
Establish a new theatre and cultural hub in the city centre offering leading theatrical, music and performance facilities
The former Scala Theatre ceased operating as a cinema in 1973 and will be bought by the City Council, along with adjoining the Grade II-listed Corn Exchange.
These two iconic buildings will be brought back into use as a performance arts venue offering theatre, music and other performance events. It is proposed that the Swan Theatre will relocate from its current home on The Moors to this new venue.
Stimulate economic growth with vibrant leisure facilities and city living opportunities
The former Co-op retail unit on Angel Street, opposite the Corn Exchange and is currently vacant, could be used for a number of purposes, including office or co-working space, food and beverage provision and/or entertainment. This building has recently been bought by the Council.
It is proposed to refurbish the former Panama Jacks building for food or leisure activities.
The prominent Trinity House building will also be refurbished and converted into residential accommodation with active uses on the ground floor. .
Create new event and leisure space, and revamp the Angel Place market
The Angel Place market will be re-shaped and space will be made for new outdoor events such as a summer cinema or an urban beach, along with play facilities for children.
New activities and space for events in Angel Place will make it a more appealing destination, increasing footfall in the immediate vicinity and to the city as a whole.
Conserve and enhance historic assets
Vacant historic premises and listed buildings will be restored and brought back into use.
Pedestrian and cycling access will be improved
As part of the Arches-Worcester initiative, accessibility will be improved by creating new walking and cycling routes between Foregate Street station, Angel Place and the riverside.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Future High Streets Fund?
It is a Government initiative led by the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government that aims to rejuvenate the UK’s high streets. The £1bn fund is to be used to renew and reshape town centres and high streets through transformational schemes which improve visitors’ experience, drives growth and ensures future sustainability.
The way we shop and the way that communities use their high streets is changing and the rise of online retailing is creating greater competition. As a result, high streets are having to evolve and adapt.
The Future High Street Fund was initially launched in December 2018. Following the submission of a detailed business case for the funding to enhance the northern gateway in June 2020, Worcester City Council received £17.93m grant funding in December 2020.
Why the northern gateway?
Since the 19th Century, the northern gateway to Worcester city centre – the area around The Cross, Angel St and Trinity St – has served as a commercial hub within the city. However, the area has recently seen a decline as the number of vacant retail units has increased and footfall has decreased.
The objective of the Future High Streets Fund programme is to create a vibrant leisure and entertainment quarter adjacent to the high-quality primary retail core, providing residents and visitors with an additional
Who made Worcester’s bid to the Future High Streets Fund?
Worcester City Council prepared and submitted the successful bid to the Future High Streets Fund, with support from Worcestershire County Council, Worcestershire LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership), the Crown Estate (owners of Crowngate Shopping Centre), the University of Worcester, Worcester BID (Business Improvement District), the owners of Trinity House, market operator LSD Promotions and others.
What happens next?
Firstly, the proposals will be subject to land assembly, design and feasibility work. Following that, planning permission will be sought to implement the proposals.
This page will be regularly updated with the most recent developments when more information becomes available. You can also keep in touch with the latest news on social media.
When will construction be completed?
The work is planned for completion by March 2024.
Property Enhancement Grant
The Property Enhancement Grant scheme aims to encourage vacant and under-occupied property owners to invest in their buildings, attract tenants and improve the vitality and vibrancy of the Northern Gateway area of Worcester town centre.
Property owners seeking to undertake external and internal property improvement works to enhance the lettability, functionality and appearance of their property are encouraged to apply for grant assistance through the scheme. The grant allows for payment towards these works at no cost to the owners.