IT WAS a groundbreaking week for Stratford as work finally began on the £30million project to redevelop Town Square.
The long-awaited revamp will bring around 25 new shops, restaurants and cafés to the town.
As part of the scheme, developers UK & European Investments intend to improve the site’s entrances and the 14th century bell that was previously hung will also be re-installed.
The Everyman cinema group was the first to sign up to the project while upmarket burger chain Byron has also confirmed it will be part of the new-look square, which is set to be renamed Bell Court when the works are complete.
Developers were joined by representatives from Stratford Town Trust and Stratford District Council on Tuesday (February 16) for the ground-breaking ceremony, which officially marks the start of the project.
The demolition phase is expected to last around three months and will be followed by the construction of a number of buildings including the new four screen cinema.
Town trust chief executive, Helen Munro, said: “UK & European Investments has shown a genuine commitment to Stratford.
“As one of the freeholders, it is important this site is developed for the benefit of the town and its people and we are confident the scheme will be welcomed when it opens.”
Entrances at both Ely Street and Wood Street will be closed to the public while construction works are carried out as will the NCP cut through.
The NCP car park will remain operational from Rother Street however, and Debenhams, H&M, Lush, Men’s Shed, Timpson, Bodycare, Numpty La and The Brow Studio will all be accessible by the High Street entrance.
Speaking about the project, Stratford District Council leader, Chris Saint, said: “The start of demolition is a significant milestone for Bell Court.
“The town has long-awaited the redevelopment of this area, which will not only benefit residents but will also help local businesses by increasing footfall and keeping people within Stratford.”
And Jane Jeffrey, UK & European’s acquisitions director, added: “Our aim is to create a high-quality retail and leisure destination in the heart of Stratford.
“Many retailers and leisure operators have pinpointed Stratford as a place they wish to invest and we’re in conversations with some very exciting potential occupiers.”
The developers currently own the lease on the square – two thirds of which is owned by the district council and the other third by Stratford Town Trust.
UK & European Investments say Bell Court should be open for business in spring 2017.