A DESTINATION LIKE NO OTHER
Much more than just a designer outlet centre, Downtown Grantham Designer Outlet is a major project that is regenerating an existing retail destination that has been successfully trading for over thirty years and already attracts more than two million shoppers each year. Once the scheme is complete, projections suggest that an additional three and a half million visitors will be drawn to the site, which will become a mixed-use retail and leisure development.
“The Downtown Grantham Designer Outlet part of the scheme will feature 107 shops over 220,000sq ft and be the heart of the project,” explains Richard Broadhead, Managing Director of Oldrids & Downtown, the developers behind the outlet. “It will also offer a major department store, large furniture and homeware store and a garden centre, along with leisure elements, a tourist information centre and a special training academy which is being developed in partnership with Grantham College, with the intention of creating a centre of excellence for training in the fields of retail, hospitality and leisure.”
Construction of the outlet will begin in the New Year, with an ambitious programme that is targeting an opening the year after. This quick turnaround is being made possible as Oldrids & Downtown’s existing site already has the required infrastructure in place. Ahead of this phase, leasing is already progressing well as Oldrids & Downtown utilise its already established connections within the retail industry.
The company is working in partnership with Freeport Retail, a leading developer and operator of outlet centres in Europe that has recently launched The Village in France, which won ‘Best New Outlet Centre’ at MAPIC in 2018. It has also brought The Outlet Resource Group (TORG) on board to assist with international leasing and marketing.
“The new outlet will feature a widespread portfolio of premium brands and include new to market retailers,” explains Broadhead. “In terms of food and beverage, the outlet sector needs to raise the bar and we intend to do exactly that by offering new and innovative concepts as part of the mix that people would not normally associate with an outlet.”
He goes on to highlight that the project is about placemaking and creating a destination that will truly blend together lots of different retail and leisure uses as well as offer an architecturally inspiring environment.
“The development will look and feel very different from your typical designer outlet, not just putting Grantham on the map, but the whole region as well,” he says. “The area has massive potential and is currently under-served in terms of the outlet offer. We’re working closely with the local authorities to ensure that this project is a catalyst for wider regeneration, investment and economic growth. The location is superb. We’re located directly on and visible from the A1, the UK’s third busiest highway, which provides exceptional accessibility. In addition, an aspiration for us is to have a dedicated railway station serving the scheme, just like Bicester Village. We have an existing railway line running adjacent to the site and meetings are underway about creating this in the future, which will provide further transport connectivity to the site, particularly from London and the south.”
As a regeneration project, green thinking has been at the heart of the development from the beginning, so everything is being designed with sustainability in mind. The scheme will integrate rainwater harvesting and solar power, with electric charging points for vehicles and the landscaping is planned to be environmentally friendly. So how will Broadhead ensure the outlet remains relevant and innovative, and where is inspiration being drawn from?
“Obviously we are drawing inspiration from other outlet centres around the world, but also from industry-leading retail and leisure destinations in general. We’re looking at what is out there, the exciting things that people are doing and the exciting things that people want, and we will integrate all of that as part of the development and the launch,” says Broadhead.
Looking forward, Broadhead acknowledges that a project of this size will not be without its challenges, but he’s confident about its deliverability. “Clearly there are certain things we have control over and certain things we don’t but we’re firmly committed to bringing this development forward as quickly as possible. We have had fantastic, widespread support from both the public and the business community. This has given us that extra boost to move forward with the project and deliver what everyone has been asking for – a destination like no other.”