Barlow's Beef: No one likes a bad loser

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Isn't life interesting?

You can be top of the pile for years, strutting your stuff before the world and then wham, there's a new kid on the block and you're no longer the only game in town. Every dog has its day.

When the Trafford Centre opened its doors in 1998 it knocked out lots of retailers and more than its share of town centres. It was more than the new kid on the block it was the entire block.

Most of those town centres never recovered and local businesses closed their doors forever as shoppers paid homage to the new Champion of Retail in Trafford.

Like any great champion the Trafford Centre swept all before it and the entire project, originally built for £600M currently has a market value of £1.9B, An amazing 200 per cent investment growth in 18 years.

Now, there's a new contender.

Alderley Edge based developer Consolidated Property Group (CPG) have submitted plans to expand the Handforth Dean Shopping Park to include retail units, cafes, restaurants, a gym and a hotel.

Handforth Dean is obviously a challenger with ambitions of moving up and someone would like to stop it before it does.

Guess who?

None other than the mighty Trafford Centre, who see the expansion of Handforth Dean as a threat to their uninterrupted success.

They claim, 'The impact on other retail centres, given the scale of (Handforth Dean) is of concern.'

Isn't that rich coming from an organisation that drained the lifeblood from every town centre in the region?

I doubt shoppers across Cheshire will shed tears. The Trafford Centre had a good run, no more than that...a great run. Any business that triples it's value in 18 years can have few complaints.

The Trafford Centre capitalised their opportunity in 1998, just as Handforth Dean plan to do now. If shoppers in South Manchester can save themselves driving around the M60 and choose to visit a great new development on their doorstep instead that's exactly what they will do.

There was little sympathy for all those private retailers who lost their livelihood after the Trafford Centre opened. It was a giant shift in the retail pattern of the area with lots of losers and only one great winner.

That 'winner' now has a contender.

There may be many rounds to go but I'd say the Champ is on the ropes.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Photo: Trafford Centre car entrance, Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic

Barlow's Beef, Vic Barlow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Manuel Golding
Tuesday 7th June 2016 at 11:39 am
I, for one, will not be shedding a drop of a tear for the Trafford Centre. As you quite rightly say Vic, that edifice has destroyed so many local retailers and without a shred of concern. Look at the once thriving Altrincham for example, now a run down, empty, boarded up shops and worse, all without a tinge of remorse for the businesses that sank as a consequence.
Now the TCs owners are showing their real colours - greedy, uncaring, insensitive and they now expect those they destroyed to have a concern for their perceived plight.
TC, that's business, tough! As you eat, so you will be eaten.
Birgitta Hoffmann
Wednesday 8th June 2016 at 12:33 pm
I, too, am not to worried about the Trafford Centre, if they think they are that easily endangered, then it is probably time.
However, I am concerned about the shops that currently still exist in Handforth, Wilmslow and Alderley Edge (and those further afield as Bramhall, Cheadle and Stockport). So far, they have been far enough away from the large shopping centres to be able to make their own living. And think most of us (except some townplanners and developers) have realised that new out of town development don't create new jobs and more shopping, they move them, leaving devastation elsewhere.

If we put something the size of the Handforth Dean development on our doorstep, we are going to loose a lot of our local businesses and that would mean the loss of our town centres. None of these retail centres offers much in the way of independent retailers, just more of the same and bargain bucket introductory prices, until the local competition is gone and then the prices go up.

Personally, I prefer our shops and the jobs they offer to local people. I also prefer not to have even more congestion on the A34 and Kingsway. The traffic John Lewis and Tesco causes is bad enough.
Kathleen Morris
Wednesday 8th June 2016 at 2:38 pm
Agreed, I have no sympathy for the Trafford Centre, which is a big business simply trying to protect its profits. However, I am also concerned at the effect an expansion of Handforth might have on the few remaining independent shops in and around Wilmslow.

As a shopping town, Wilmslow has been deteriorating for years. Just look at the people getting off any train from Manchester with the bags of purchases which have not been made locally. Stockport would also be affected by the expansion of Handforth, and this is another town which has been suffering in recent years.

A bigger Handforth centre would go a long way to removing most of the remaining small businesses within a considerable radius. Once these businesses have closed, we all know there is no getting them back.
Barry Stafford
Wednesday 8th June 2016 at 3:45 pm
I havnt been to the Trafford Centre for 5 years at least,so don't miss it.I am concerned for Cheadle and Bramhall,where I lived for many years.Some lovely shops and cafes were destroyed by Handforth Dean,especially greengrocers,and clothes shops.It is now like many other towns..Charity shops,estate agents,and coffee chains,who can afford the huge rents.Bramhall now has 12 coffee outlets,Wilmslow 16. Baz
Julie Green
Wednesday 8th June 2016 at 4:28 pm
You almost have to send a rescue party to extract anyone daring to go to Trafford Centre by car! 40 mins to get there and 2 hours stuck in the car park trying to get out last time we went! All because nobody considered a decent road layout before the centre was constructed! Would an expanded HD be any different?
Vic Barlow
Wednesday 8th June 2016 at 5:27 pm
Very interesting point, Julie.
If you take a look at CEC's new revised local plan you will find no infrastructure planning of any kind.
Hundreds of new houses but no schools, hospitals, doctor's surgeries and in some instances no plan for a massively increased traffic flow.
In Congleton they granted planning consent for Tesco to build a store at the centre of probably the most congested traffic island in East Cheshire.

When it comes to planning...Cash is King!
Rick Andrews
Friday 10th June 2016 at 12:30 pm
The Trafford Centre is noisy, crowded and difficult to access, and it is getting like that for Handforth Dean and John Lewis unless you are lucky enough to be able to go midweek.The future is internet shopping - one delivery van replaces multiple car journeys.
And Vic is right - where are all the facilities for the housing and population expansion - the developers should pay for the infrastructure, roads, schools, medical, social. Our council is too busy playing at business and creating service companies doomed to failure. And do we now need a mayor for the whole of Cheshire? Another ego trip at our expense........
Simon Worthington
Friday 10th June 2016 at 4:26 pm
One van replaces multiple car journeys. The van is on the road all day long!!!!
We all know that there is no profit in infrastucture so why plan or build it unless forced to? The Traffic Centre was supposed to be built on the other side of the M60 but the lovely Peel group and Mr. John Whittaker thought otherwise. The religeous, benevolent multimillionaire lives in tax exile in traffic free Isle of Man. See wikipedia for close resemblances to a local builder.
Laurie Atterbury
Sunday 12th June 2016 at 2:38 pm
Vic, I heard that the Manchester congestion charge was scrapped because the Trafford Centre was within the zone which meant travellers from,say, Liverpool would no longer visit it because of the charge.Anybody know if that is true?