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Business leaders hear of investment making an impact in city centre

From the modernisation of Hull’s 'gateway building' to a five-year project to improve Castle Street, major projects which can transform the city centre were presented to business leaders at the latest HullBID networking event.

Business owners, managers and directors were updated on plans to revitalise the House of Fraser building in Ferensway, to deliver the Castle Street scheme with minimum disruption and to pursue other projects including Yorkshire’s Maritime City and a bright future for Whitefriargate.

Kathryn Shillito, HullBID Executive Director, said the investment by Hull City Council and by private concerns is making a big difference to the city centre.

The series of networking events gives HullBID members direct access to decision-makers and the scale of the Castle Street project is such that James Leeming, Senior Project Manager for Highways England, has become a regular presenter.

He told the audience at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Ferensway that work on the new bridge is progressing behind the hoardings on Castle Street and the structure is on course to open in March 2020. He added that the same month will see the start of work on improvements to the road itself, with completion set for 2025.

He said: “The first two years will be about enabling works and there will not be a huge amount of disruption to traffic. After that there will be changes to how traffic can access the road network and communications will be an important part of that – letting people know how to deal with any disruption.”

Brian Freestone, representing the landlords for the House of Fraser building, unveiled plans for 'Frasers', a mixed-use development which will retain the former department store on two floors and bring in other retail, leisure businesses and luxury serviced apartments.

He said: “The House of Fraser closure announcement was a shock to everyone but there has been a lot of hard work by the landlords and Hull City Council to save the building and keep the store in there. The landlords decided the building needed a facelift and that’s what will happen.”

Garry Taylor, Head of Major Projects at Hull City Council, outlined the 'masterplan' which he said was about “making the city centre a world-class destination for tourism and the economy.”

He reminded guests of the progress which the city has made with the regeneration of the public realm and some of the major buildings, and he voiced confidence about Whitefriargate.

He said: “It doesn’t have the product to make people stop but it does have the footfall. It’s a wonderful street heritage-wise and funding will be available to improve units and bring back the historic, chocolate box frontages.”

He added that the City Council is working with partners to revitalise parts of the city centre which some people have forgotten: “How do we make the city really creative? Retail is great but it’s everything else. It’s working, living, leisure, enjoyment and creativity. Where we are today is we have a city that has all of that, but we can’t stop. We have to change and evolve because that’s what good cities do.”

Kathryn highlighted the forthcoming HullBID activities including the sold-out Inspiring Women dinner on Wednesday 5 June – part of Humber Business Week – and the continuing programme of Hull Street Food Nights sponsored by the Lexington rooftop bar at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. She also reminded guests about the Yum! Festival of Food and Drink, which will take place at the Rose Bowl and in Queens Gardens on Friday 9 August and Saturday 10 August.

She said: “HullBID is also working with Hull City Council on a joint marketing campaign to reignite people’s interest in in coming into the city centre. There’s a myriad of activity going on to promote the city centre.”

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