Retail giant Next to sign up to King's Quarter
RETAIL giant Next could return to the centre of Gloucester as part of the £60m King's Quarter regeneration.
The clothes store has thrown its hat into the ring, just days after Gloucester City Council and developer Stanhope Plc said they are now ready to sign a contract for the project.
Shoppers and traders alike have welcomed the news.
Panna Visani, owner of World of Stationery at King's Square, said: "It will be great to see Next here. We have been here seven years and people tell us they don't really like coming to Gloucester.
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"We have been hearing things over the years, but now it is time to see some action.
"People go to The Cross, but they don't come down this way, especially the youngsters. Having Next could change that."
Retired Jeffrey Walton said: "I have lived in Gloucester since 1957 and right now it is a big dump and an eyesore.
"Some of the buildings in King's Square should have been blown up years ago.
"It needs shops like Next to bring the people in.
"But it also needs a better square, something which looks less like a mess."
Pensioner Monica Morris, from Barnwood, said: "It will be good to see this place with something other than junk shops.
"I do a bit of shopping in M&S, but otherwise I go to Cheltenham. We need something better like this."
Next could be joined by an array of other shops, restaurants, a small cinema and a new-look bus station.
Retailers are being courted by developers who want to attract up to 40 big name high street shops.
Last week they were shown the plans for King's Quarter at a special retailers conference in Liverpool.
Work on securing more deals and acquiring the land needed is also under way.
A planning application will be submitted to council planners early next year.
Martyn Chase, project director for Stanhope, said: "Next is hoping to be an anchor store. We are talking to them.
"A number of other retailers have taken away our plans."
Next, which has a store at the Quays, confirmed it is involved with King's Quarter but remains tight-lipped about the scheme.
A spokeswoman said: "We are monitoring the progress of King's Quarter and we have already looked at the plans. It is still too early for us to say any more at this stage."
The retailer, which has more than 500 stores across the country, already has a branch in Quedgeley and a clearance store at the Quays.