Plans for 'vibrant' Waterdale Centre in Doncaster under development
Bulldozers may have moved in – but the Waterdale Shopping Centre in Doncaster is set for a ‘vibrant’ future.
That is the view of the owners of the shopping centre, who are currently formulating their plans for its future.
Large sections of the Queensgate part of the centre are now flattened, including the former Iceland store on the pedestrianised precinct.
Piles of rubble lie behind wire fencing, as the work continues, on land just a few hundred yards from Sir Nigel Gresley Square, and the project Doncaster Council called its Civic and Cultural Quarter.
But the demolitions are set to lead to a re-develpment of the Waterdale Centre that the site’s owners believe will help create something vibrant at the centre, initially built in the 1960s, and which provides a pedestrian link between the town’s cultural quarter and its main core.
Doncaster Council documents from the planning application for the demolition say while the exact project is not yet fully in place, discussions are taking place with the council on the project and grant funding is being sought to help the future regeneration scheme. But the council has said it supports schemes that would revitalise the Waterdale Centre area for retail, leisure, and tourism uses.
The centre is now owned by the Doncaster-based property firm Lazarus Properties, who bought it from the Birmingham firm St Modwen.
Lazarus director Glyn Smith said his firm had faith in the local economy of Doncaster town centre, even though larger multinationals seemed to be shying away.
He said: “We’re committed to redeveloping the Waterdale in conjunction with the civic quarter area of Doncaster, now a key location in the ever changing town centre.
“We’ve got to invent something that’s going to be attractive to people and to create something vibrant, and that is what we are looking to do.
“People are already taking a lot of interest. Waterdale is a good location on a busy route with good parking and located close to the railway station.
“We have already had a lot of interest in the area from businesses.”
Shops and cafés already based at the Waterdale Centre have high hopes for the area. But they are keen to see more footfall – partcularly at weekends.
Rachel Whitaker, who runs the Jam Horse, moved there having previously operated from a shop on Scot Lane. She said she would like to see local entrpreneurs and artisan manufacturers moving into the area in the future.
Rachel, who makes and sells jam, said: “We already have some of that. There is the wool shop, a computer repairs shop, there are plans for a commercial art gallery for local artists, and a there is an artisan expresso bar opening soon.
“I moved here from Scot Lane, and I found my customers came with me.”
She believes the demolished area may be left as parking and open space.
Angela Dowling, manager of Open Cast, the organisation which runs Taste Café on Waterdale, said she did not know what was planned for the Waterdale Centre in the long run, but she would like to remain there.
She said: “We think it is a nice position. It’s central and easy to get to.
“I’d like to see it developed into somewhere with lots of independent shops. There have been some nice ones, but they have not been sustainable because there is not that much footfall. I think the new developments like the cinema and restaurants at Gresley Square will attract footfall though.”
Andy Stancliffe has two shops on Waterdale. He runs Lakeside Furniture Direct, and the demolition work is close to his shop.
He would like to see some of the space used for parking.
He said: “I would like to see a car park for people using the shops here, perhaps free for a couple of hours, where they could get shopping and go. There are not a lot of people here on Saturdays, although there are a lot Monday to Friday, using the council offices.
“The demolition has made visibility better here, and we’ve not had any broken windows since it was carried out, so I think that openness has been good for security. I’d like to see CCTV cameras in this part of town too.”
Members of the public had their own ideas about how they would like to see Waterdale developed.
Callum Murphy, aged 28, of Thorne, said he would like to see something brought to the centre for families to do. “There was Astrabound outside the town centre. I’d like to see something like that,” he said. “At the moment things look bad where the demolition work has been going on, but hopefully they will breathe more life into the area.”
Becky Lea, aged 25, from Cantley, said she thought a chip shop would be good for Waterdale. “There a lot of businesses round here and I think they would use a chip shop.”
Georgina Empson, aged 20 from Rossington thought a convenience store would be useful. “At the moment, you have to walk quite a way from here to get a soft drink, and the Greggs shuts at 5pm,” she said.
Rosie Ahearne, aged 24, from Balby, would like to see some quiet bars. She said: “I’d like to see a nice restaurant and a cocktail bar, so you didn’t have to go all the way into Silver Street for pubs. I’d like to see somewhere quieter than the pubs on Silver Street where you could sit and talk.”
Deane Gillies, aged 23, from Goole, works nearby. She said: “I think at the moment there’s not much to attract people – they just walk through. I’d like to see nice, approachable cafés, and a convenience store. I’d use it.”