Crossing is killing businesses

Pedestrians have been redirected away from centre's shops

Concerned - traders Wayne Smith and Jack Higgs Wilson

People using the new crossing

First published in South Essex news by

TRADERS in one of Southend’s biggest shopping centres say their businesses are suffering because visitor numbers have fallen by more than half a million since the revamp of Victoria Gateway.

Businesses in Victoria Shopping Centre say a new crossing in the shared space outside Victoria Station is leading people away from an escalator that takes them through the centre and into the high street.

Figures for 2013 show the centre had 160,809 fewer visitors than in 2012 following the £7.5million Victoria Gateway revamp, which was completed in March 2011.

So far this year, footfall is already down 224,809 on last year without the last quarter figures.

Jack Higgs Wilson, owner of Higgs leather and fur retailer said: “We weren’t consulted when they did the shared space and we have been ignored since.

“They’ve ripped the heart out of the centre.”

The centre underwent a £27million revamp in 2006, which included a roof to keep out the weather and encourage shoppers to linger, but the main complaint from businesses appears to be the introduction of the new crossing.

Traders also question why Southend Council spent money putting in trees and seats outside, when it should have spent cash to bring in more shoppers.

Tony Belyavin, chairman of the Victoria Tenants’ Association, said: “We feel we have been completely ignored by the council and it hasn’t listened to the people it is supposed to represent.

“We contribute £50million to the local economy and employ 250 people and yet we are ignored.

“The additional crossing has created a walkway which bypasses the centre.

“When we didn’t have that, people used the original crossing and came up by the escalator by the station.

“We believe they should remove the pedestrian crossing, or fence it off, because with the skateboarders using the space as well, it’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Footfall has been in a steady decline in recent years, falling from eight million in 2005 to five million last year.

There are currently 15 empty shops in the centre.

 

A COUNCILLOR says he is happy to work with the centre to attract more shoppers.

Martin Terry, Southend councillor responsible for public protection and transport, said: “The council has said Southend is open for business and we want to do everything we can to encourage a prosperous economy.

“It needs a deeper response from council officers. If they would like to contact me directly I would be happy to look into it.”

The shopping centre also suffered after plans for a Tesco store on the former B&Q site, in Short Street, fell through. It was hoped it would revitalise the centre, as a new bridge would have been built to connect the supermarket to the shopping centre.

Dennis Baldry, spokesman for the Victoria Shopping Centre, said: “There are other issues in Southend, not just at the Victoria, but I wouldn’t disagree the crossing has had an impact on that end of the centre.

“The changes were already there when I started, but based on footfall I wouldn’t disagree with traders that they have had an impact on the centre.

Comments (18)

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6:18am Fri 5 Sep 14

VeteranOfMany says...

So the council are wrong to have designed a direct route from the station at Vic ave to the High Street ? why should people be diverted through the characterless revamped Vic Circus shopping centre ? just to be tempted to purchase the over priced, chinese made clothing from next ?
If it was a desirable shopping mall, with exquisite shops, people would go there of their own accord, but to expect people to be funneled and coraled, really is grasping at straws.
So the council are wrong to have designed a direct route from the station at Vic ave to the High Street ? why should people be diverted through the characterless revamped Vic Circus shopping centre ? just to be tempted to purchase the over priced, chinese made clothing from next ? If it was a desirable shopping mall, with exquisite shops, people would go there of their own accord, but to expect people to be funneled and coraled, really is grasping at straws. VeteranOfMany
  • Score: 19

8:11am Fri 5 Sep 14

Thames Gateway says...

I must admit that I have not been to the centre much at all in the last 2 years. The main change for me has been the loss of the former B&Q open car=park that was nice to use and quite easy to get to from the east of town, that was before the Victoria Circus revamp that then made it a 15 minute queue in traffic westbound all the way to the Homebase roundabout and then back the same way that I had just come down in the opposite direction.
Used to park up and use escalator/steps into the centre, but no more as parking in different area now due to the car-parking access/egress issue from the east.
I must admit that I have not been to the centre much at all in the last 2 years. The main change for me has been the loss of the former B&Q open car=park that was nice to use and quite easy to get to from the east of town, that was before the Victoria Circus revamp that then made it a 15 minute queue in traffic westbound all the way to the Homebase roundabout and then back the same way that I had just come down in the opposite direction. Used to park up and use escalator/steps into the centre, but no more as parking in different area now due to the car-parking access/egress issue from the east. Thames Gateway
  • Score: 13

8:24am Fri 5 Sep 14

southend brummie says...

This shopping centre has been a huge white elephant for years, and it should have been demolished rather than renovated. Southend doesn't need it - there are plenty of shops elsewhere, and like most town centre residents I never go there.
This shopping centre has been a huge white elephant for years, and it should have been demolished rather than renovated. Southend doesn't need it - there are plenty of shops elsewhere, and like most town centre residents I never go there. southend brummie
  • Score: 7

8:29am Fri 5 Sep 14

Now listen for I have something to say says...

Good place to go and get away from the weather, and good free bogs, also that Polish greengrocer by the lower level coffee bar, WOW such quality and oh so cheap, as for the shops, forget them.
Higgs and Vic shoes been there donkeys years, cheaper in London...
Good place to go and get away from the weather, and good free bogs, also that Polish greengrocer by the lower level coffee bar, WOW such quality and oh so cheap, as for the shops, forget them. Higgs and Vic shoes been there donkeys years, cheaper in London... Now listen for I have something to say
  • Score: 4

8:58am Fri 5 Sep 14

Alice in Her Own Land :P says...

What a load of cobblers! If people wanted to go to Vic Circus, they would regardless of crossings or any other lame excuse used by the traders. Higgs does a lot of their business online anyway so do not have to depend on footfall.
Vic Circus was far better when it was the "Windy City" with the little shops and the much missed "Cork and Cheese". It's far too clinical and characterless now.
What a load of cobblers! If people wanted to go to Vic Circus, they would regardless of crossings or any other lame excuse used by the traders. Higgs does a lot of their business online anyway so do not have to depend on footfall. Vic Circus was far better when it was the "Windy City" with the little shops and the much missed "Cork and Cheese". It's far too clinical and characterless now. Alice in Her Own Land :P
  • Score: 27

9:24am Fri 5 Sep 14

ddf35 says...

i feel for the traders in Vic centre, but the crossing was needed as escalators and steps are not accessible for buggies, wheelchairs, mobility scooters and people with mobility restrictions in general.

overall the shared space is a pile of cack and the idea they are now 'greenifying' it when it was pretty bloody green before they ripped it all apart is pretty insulting to Southend residents.
i feel for the traders in Vic centre, but the crossing was needed as escalators and steps are not accessible for buggies, wheelchairs, mobility scooters and people with mobility restrictions in general. overall the shared space is a pile of cack and the idea they are now 'greenifying' it when it was pretty bloody green before they ripped it all apart is pretty insulting to Southend residents. ddf35
  • Score: 16

10:02am Fri 5 Sep 14

echoforum says...

The new owners wanted a posh mall..thats why they chucked out the old shops..remember the antique centre with cafe and the sewing/material shop..well now they have permitted a Poundland to open next to Boots..........GREAT
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The new owners wanted a posh mall..thats why they chucked out the old shops..remember the antique centre with cafe and the sewing/material shop..well now they have permitted a Poundland to open next to Boots..........GREAT !!!!!!!!!!!!!! echoforum
  • Score: 13

10:27am Fri 5 Sep 14

Now listen for I have something to say says...

ddf35 wrote:
i feel for the traders in Vic centre, but the crossing was needed as escalators and steps are not accessible for buggies, wheelchairs, mobility scooters and people with mobility restrictions in general.

overall the shared space is a pile of cack and the idea they are now 'greenifying' it when it was pretty bloody green before they ripped it all apart is pretty insulting to Southend residents.
What do they feel like, these traders ? light ?
[quote][p][bold]ddf35[/bold] wrote: i feel for the traders in Vic centre, but the crossing was needed as escalators and steps are not accessible for buggies, wheelchairs, mobility scooters and people with mobility restrictions in general. overall the shared space is a pile of cack and the idea they are now 'greenifying' it when it was pretty bloody green before they ripped it all apart is pretty insulting to Southend residents.[/p][/quote]What do they feel like, these traders ? light ? Now listen for I have something to say
  • Score: -4

10:48am Fri 5 Sep 14

sesibollox says...

Bluewater for me fab parking, fab shopping, fab times, simply fab fab fab.
Bluewater for me fab parking, fab shopping, fab times, simply fab fab fab. sesibollox
  • Score: -18

12:54pm Fri 5 Sep 14

Bernard Manning says...

Retailers complaining because people are not being inconvenienced by being forced up and through the Victoria Shopping Centre? Don’t get that at all, except I suppose I do given the arrogance of shop keepers. Anyway the nature of retailing has changed. Shops in general are, for the majority, there for immediate needs…..a cup of coffee, some toiletries, a birthday card, some rat poison…….stuff like that, that’s why stores like the marvellous Wilko and Boots are succesful. Anything more and you go to the internet…..better on price and more importantly better on choice. The days of having to accept what is offered on the “High Street” are well and truly over. Shopping trips are for the economically affluent, and nobody in their right mind would come to a town like Southend for a spending spree. Even the shops that are here are poor man’s versions and that’s why this weekend I’m Central and East London bound. There’s stuff that me and the missus want, and we’ll be trying it on but then ordering it over the internet after the event. It means we’re free to do what we want after as well…..unladen by bags.
Retailers complaining because people are not being inconvenienced by being forced up and through the Victoria Shopping Centre? Don’t get that at all, except I suppose I do given the arrogance of shop keepers. Anyway the nature of retailing has changed. Shops in general are, for the majority, there for immediate needs…..a cup of coffee, some toiletries, a birthday card, some rat poison…….stuff like that, that’s why stores like the marvellous Wilko and Boots are succesful. Anything more and you go to the internet…..better on price and more importantly better on choice. The days of having to accept what is offered on the “High Street” are well and truly over. Shopping trips are for the economically affluent, and nobody in their right mind would come to a town like Southend for a spending spree. Even the shops that are here are poor man’s versions and that’s why this weekend I’m Central and East London bound. There’s stuff that me and the missus want, and we’ll be trying it on but then ordering it over the internet after the event. It means we’re free to do what we want after as well…..unladen by bags. Bernard Manning
  • Score: 8

1:58pm Fri 5 Sep 14

IanKershaw says...

“We believe they should remove the pedestrian crossing, or fence it off..." Yeah right! LOL What planet you on girlfriend?
“We believe they should remove the pedestrian crossing, or fence it off..." Yeah right! LOL What planet you on girlfriend? IanKershaw
  • Score: 3

5:01pm Fri 5 Sep 14

1nails says...

The whole place is a mess, from the sea front, up the High Street through to Vic Plaza...............
..THANK YOU ANNA WAITE. !!!!!!!!!!
The whole place is a mess, from the sea front, up the High Street through to Vic Plaza............... ..THANK YOU ANNA WAITE. !!!!!!!!!! 1nails
  • Score: 5

5:29pm Fri 5 Sep 14

Dumbnut says...

Bernard Manning wrote:
Retailers complaining because people are not being inconvenienced by being forced up and through the Victoria Shopping Centre? Don’t get that at all, except I suppose I do given the arrogance of shop keepers. Anyway the nature of retailing has changed. Shops in general are, for the majority, there for immediate needs…..a cup of coffee, some toiletries, a birthday card, some rat poison…….stuff like that, that’s why stores like the marvellous Wilko and Boots are succesful. Anything more and you go to the internet…..better on price and more importantly better on choice. The days of having to accept what is offered on the “High Street” are well and truly over. Shopping trips are for the economically affluent, and nobody in their right mind would come to a town like Southend for a spending spree. Even the shops that are here are poor man’s versions and that’s why this weekend I’m Central and East London bound. There’s stuff that me and the missus want, and we’ll be trying it on but then ordering it over the internet after the event. It means we’re free to do what we want after as well…..unladen by bags.
What do they want from SBC? It's not like the council would let them build a big roundabout that you couldn't avoid the shops ala Tesco's is it?. Oh wait...Where's me pills.
[quote][p][bold]Bernard Manning[/bold] wrote: Retailers complaining because people are not being inconvenienced by being forced up and through the Victoria Shopping Centre? Don’t get that at all, except I suppose I do given the arrogance of shop keepers. Anyway the nature of retailing has changed. Shops in general are, for the majority, there for immediate needs…..a cup of coffee, some toiletries, a birthday card, some rat poison…….stuff like that, that’s why stores like the marvellous Wilko and Boots are succesful. Anything more and you go to the internet…..better on price and more importantly better on choice. The days of having to accept what is offered on the “High Street” are well and truly over. Shopping trips are for the economically affluent, and nobody in their right mind would come to a town like Southend for a spending spree. Even the shops that are here are poor man’s versions and that’s why this weekend I’m Central and East London bound. There’s stuff that me and the missus want, and we’ll be trying it on but then ordering it over the internet after the event. It means we’re free to do what we want after as well…..unladen by bags.[/p][/quote]What do they want from SBC? It's not like the council would let them build a big roundabout that you couldn't avoid the shops ala Tesco's is it?. Oh wait...Where's me pills. Dumbnut
  • Score: -1

6:44pm Fri 5 Sep 14

maxell says...

For about £29 you can get a flight to manchester Trafford Center its is huge much bigger than lakeside, and cheaper,There is an internal bus link from the airport. Ditch southend its the only way to make the officers listern. The council promote the airport / flights, I wonder how they would feel if all people shopped in an other aera.
For about £29 you can get a flight to manchester Trafford Center its is huge much bigger than lakeside, and cheaper,There is an internal bus link from the airport. Ditch southend its the only way to make the officers listern. The council promote the airport / flights, I wonder how they would feel if all people shopped in an other aera. maxell
  • Score: -2

6:54pm Fri 5 Sep 14

steve077 says...

Alice in Her Own Land :P wrote:
What a load of cobblers! If people wanted to go to Vic Circus, they would regardless of crossings or any other lame excuse used by the traders. Higgs does a lot of their business online anyway so do not have to depend on footfall.
Vic Circus was far better when it was the "Windy City" with the little shops and the much missed "Cork and Cheese". It's far too clinical and characterless now.
The 'Cork & Cheese is gone?
Pity- that used to be brilliant, in there then on to zhivigos on a Friday night. Then get the 2.17 train back to Wickford.

Those were the days!
[quote][p][bold]Alice in Her Own Land :P[/bold] wrote: What a load of cobblers! If people wanted to go to Vic Circus, they would regardless of crossings or any other lame excuse used by the traders. Higgs does a lot of their business online anyway so do not have to depend on footfall. Vic Circus was far better when it was the "Windy City" with the little shops and the much missed "Cork and Cheese". It's far too clinical and characterless now.[/p][/quote]The 'Cork & Cheese is gone? Pity- that used to be brilliant, in there then on to zhivigos on a Friday night. Then get the 2.17 train back to Wickford. Those were the days! steve077
  • Score: 4

8:59am Sun 7 Sep 14

the citizen says...

Reduce the unit rents (with longer opening hours required)...reduce the parking charges.. high standard mini-market selling high quality goods...themed shopping pop-ups...perhaps some"golden hello's" to major brands...and ban the payday loan companies. Get the HSBC building occupied, get creative and stop moaning!
Reduce the unit rents (with longer opening hours required)...reduce the parking charges.. high standard mini-market selling high quality goods...themed shopping pop-ups...perhaps some"golden hello's" to major brands...and ban the payday loan companies. Get the HSBC building occupied, get creative and stop moaning! the citizen
  • Score: 2

10:35am Mon 8 Sep 14

DannyK86 says...

sesibollox wrote:
Bluewater for me fab parking, fab shopping, fab times, simply fab fab fab.
Rubbish traffic to get there and an overpriced river crossing both ways.
[quote][p][bold]sesibollox[/bold] wrote: Bluewater for me fab parking, fab shopping, fab times, simply fab fab fab.[/p][/quote]Rubbish traffic to get there and an overpriced river crossing both ways. DannyK86
  • Score: 0

10:40am Mon 8 Sep 14

DannyK86 says...

maxell wrote:
For about £29 you can get a flight to manchester Trafford Center its is huge much bigger than lakeside, and cheaper,There is an internal bus link from the airport. Ditch southend its the only way to make the officers listern. The council promote the airport / flights, I wonder how they would feel if all people shopped in an other aera.
Firstly, you can't fly from Southend to Manchester at the moment (correct me if I'm wrong). Secondly, that price wouldn't include the cost of the baggage you'd need for the shopping. Thirdly, havign been to the Trafford Centre, it's on a level with Lakeside at best, so you might as well drive there.
[quote][p][bold]maxell[/bold] wrote: For about £29 you can get a flight to manchester Trafford Center its is huge much bigger than lakeside, and cheaper,There is an internal bus link from the airport. Ditch southend its the only way to make the officers listern. The council promote the airport / flights, I wonder how they would feel if all people shopped in an other aera.[/p][/quote]Firstly, you can't fly from Southend to Manchester at the moment (correct me if I'm wrong). Secondly, that price wouldn't include the cost of the baggage you'd need for the shopping. Thirdly, havign been to the Trafford Centre, it's on a level with Lakeside at best, so you might as well drive there. DannyK86
  • Score: 1

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