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£8m White Lion Walk Refurbishment ‘Fantastic News’ Says Councillor

Published on: 22 Jan, 2022
Updated on: 27 Jan, 2022

By Hugh Coakley

Work on an £8 million refurbishment of one of Guildford’s High Street shopping malls started on Monday (Jan 17).

The upgrade of the White Lion Walk shopping centre will include offices on the upper floor, new shop fronts and removal of the central escalators. The centre will remain fully open during the 11-month project.

GBC Executive member, John Redpath welcomed the news saying: “[Private] investment on this scale in our high street is fantastic news.”

Illustrative view of the refurbished White Lion Walk from North Street.

Traders welcomed the upgrade to the shopping centre but were bracing themselves against potential disruption to their businesses during the 50-week construction work, due for completion in December 2022.

The mall, opened in 1987, has been looking progressively quieter as some shops moved to other locations in the town.

One shopkeeper told The Dragon they were considering moving when their lease came up for renewal in the summer.

Next who occupied a key entrance corner unit in White Lion Walk moved over to a prime location in The Friary in 2021. Haberdashers, Cross and Hamblin, are moving to a smaller shop in Chapel Street and a closing down sale is underway.

Looking through White Lion Walk once the refurbish is complete in December 2022.

And Charmé Jewellery has relocated to the pedestrianised Tunsgate. Owner Sedat Orbay said he was pleased to be avoiding the construction disturbance in White Lion Walk.

There are around five other shops standing empty, including the unit formerly occupied by a branch of jewellers H Samuels. This unit is to be the entrance lobby to the new first floor offices.

Andrew Foulds, portfolio director from the centre’s owner, Redevco UK, said: “Obviously while undergoing development, the centre will look worse before it looks better. We are continuing to market these units on short term flexible leases in an effort to keep vacancy levels to a minimum. We have a couple of deals under consideration now.

“The new design will welcome new retailers and businesses looking for office space and will provide a walk-through experience for consumers, connecting the High Street and a bright atrium. We want to create a destination for Guildford and encourage shoppers back into the town centre.”

Cllr John Redpath

Lead councillor for Economy, John Redpath (R4GV, Holy Trinity), said: “Investment on this scale in our high street is fantastic news, plus creating the additional sought-after office space.

“White Lion Walk is one of the oldest of our three town centre shopping centres and residents and visitors will welcome improvements to the experience of shopping there.

“Our plans to regenerate the town centre are also moving ahead and the St Mary’s Wharf development (former Debenhams) and North Street plans, it is an exciting time for Guildford and while Covid has impacted our £5 billion local economy, I am keen to see us recover and emerge more robust than before.”

The contractor for the works is Faircloth Construction and the architects are Corstorphine & Wright.

Redevco, a retail investment management company, have at least four other retail assets in the UK, in London, Brighton and Glasgow, with extensive properties around Europe. Their assets, valued on their website, amount to EUR 6.7 billion.

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Responses to £8m White Lion Walk Refurbishment ‘Fantastic News’ Says Councillor

  1. Colin Dent Reply

    January 24, 2022 at 10:56 am

    Standard bit-part journalism. “There are around five other shops standing empty”, if the journalist would have taken the time to actually look surely he would know how many there actually are.

    Editor’s response: The journalist, Hugh Coakley, is in town most weeks and visited White Lion Walk to speak to the traders there and see what was happening first-hand. In the article, he had said “… around five other shops standing empty” because it is sometimes difficult in shopping centres to be sure whether one empty retail unit is actually one or two empty shops.

  2. Maddy Redpath Reply

    January 27, 2022 at 1:02 pm

    I would like to emphasise that this is a privately funded project and no public money has gone into it.

    I have had several complaints about GBC supposedly funding this. It is not.

    Maddy Redpath is a R4GV councillor for Holy Trinity

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