Business leaders in Northampton have expressed their hope university students can help to revitalise Northampton’s Grosvenor Shopping Centre in the next few years.
The University of Northampton is planning to relocate to a site in the town centre by 2018 and more than 400 students are set to move into the new St John’s House halls of residence in September.
It is hoped that the increasing number of students in the town centre can help to increase the footfall in the Grosvenor Centre.
In the past couple of months, two large retail units – House of Fraser and Republic – have closed down their stores in the shopping centre, leaving a large vacant space on the ground floor of the mall. It was also announced this week that Miss Selfridge will close to customers on Saturday.
Russell Hall, manager of the Grosvenor Centre, said Miss Selfridge was closing this Saturday to “make way” for Primark and Next, which are also filling the vacant House of Fraser site.
Councillor David Mackintosh, leader of Northampton Borough Council, said many of the current improvements of the town centre were preparing the way for the relocation of the university campus.
He said: “The changes in the Grosvenor Centre, with Primark and Next going into the House of Fraser site, show the centre is trying to attract a different type of shopper to the town. I think the increased amount of university students will provide a boost.”
Stephen Church, who used to run Church’s China and was chairman of the Northampton Town Centre Summit, said he thought the closure of House of Fraser had been a “big disaster” for the Grosvenor Centre.
He said: “I don’t think enough effort was made by both parties in the dispute over the lease. So many people, both young and old, have said to me that House of Fraser was a significant reason for them coming into Northampton town centre.
“But the potential of the town centre is terrific. I think the town will revive when the university moves to the town centre and the county council opens its new office.”