After the closing of the Co-Op on Broad Lane in July, councillors and local people have been looking at how to fill the gap for an affordable, community based outlet that the area has needed for a long time.
The closure of the Co-Op was a blow, especially as it was such a longstanding fixture of Broadway; however, the shop was no longer meeting the requirements of the local area. With little investment in the Broad Lane store, and considerably higher prices, the Co-Op has gradually become more gentrified, abandoning their community ethos in favour of pouring more money into their higher-end shops in the south of the city.
Broadway was once a thriving shopping area, but has seen a decline in recent years, due to large supermarkets forcing many local businesses under.
However, a new idea for a ‘people’s shop’ has been floated by councillors, which would return to the older idea of a community-based shopping experience.
Although in very early stages, the idea proposes that the former Regal cinema and Mecca Bingo site, which has been shut up since the smoking ban came into force in 2007, will be transformed into a market place, with fresh food shops, a café, seasonal stores, creative spaces, an independent cinema, as well as restaurants, which would also create an evening economy.
Ideas for planning have included knocking the building down and having containers, keeping the front of the old building and having containers in the back, or maybe keeping the building intact and having shops inside.
Although only in its infancy, this idea would revitalise the area, fill a gap in the market, create jobs, and allow people to set up their own businesses.
Barry Kushner, councillor for Norris Green, said: ‘This is a huge site with lots of potential. There is nowhere to go in the evening in Broadway, so we want to rejuvenate the area, and develop something so that there are places to eat out, and spend leisure time in the evening, as well as a shopping area. ‘Our offices are working on proposals to outline how we can go forward, and we are in talks with the lease holders.’
This is exciting news, and, if successful, will breathe new life into Broadway that is long overdue.