In recent days, our city has seen the opening of the £150 million Bond Street complex and the flagship John Lewis store in the heart of the city centre.
The jobs and investment created by the redevelopment of the Bond Street area is a welcome vote of confidence in Chelmsford and its future prospects and I’m delighted at the opportunities this presents, right in time for the peak shopping season in the run up to Christmas. The new complex is also being supported by 275 new underground car parking spaces
With our status as England’s newest city, we have an increasing range of shops to match that status, including a new Everyman multi-screen cinema, Foyles bookstore, and a wide selection of restaurants with outside seating arriving on the riverside. This comes on top of the new eateries Chelmsford has already seen open recently at the Exchange in the High Chelmer complex.
The £18 million John Lewis store alone has seen the creation of 300 jobs, of which 43% are full time and 23 were filled working in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions and the local Job Centre. Those employed are becoming Partners and co-owners of the business, with benefits including an annual bonus, access to holiday and access to education and career development support from the company.
The John Lewis store is at the heart of the new redevelopment, offering over 65,000 fashion, beauty, home and electrical products and includes an opticians a beauty treatment room and a foreign exchange bureau.
This welcome news on jobs builds on the welcome progress Chelmsford has already seen on unemployment, with the claimant count in the constituency already well below the national average and down by 125 people compared with a year ago.
It’s great to hear too that John Lewis will also be supporting local charities as part of their Community Matters programme, with £3,000 split proportionately between 3 charities based on customers’ selections every 12 weeks. Any members of the public can nominate a charity of their choice for selection by emailing in, and I’m looking forward to visiting the store in the coming months.
I hope that everyone enjoys shopping and dining out at the new stores and restaurants this autumn and am confident that this is another promising sign for Chelmsford’s future.