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Shoppers explore Chapelfield on its opening day.
Shoppers explore Chapelfield

Chapelfield opens for shoppers

A £275m shopping centre development has opened in the heart of Norwich. Chapelfield houses nearly 100 shops, cafes and restaurants, but business owners across the county have been considering the impact it could have on trade.

The multi-million Chapelfield development has opened its doors to shoppers in Norwich.

The new centre houses more than 80 shops and 17 cafes and restaurants including a flagship store for House of Fraser, a branch of Spanish-based clothes retailer Mango and book shop Borders.

The complex's focal point is an illuminated spire, which is based on London's Gherkin building.

It is hoped the new centre will help propel Norwich into the UK's list of top five shopping destinations by 2008, but there are concerns that the arrival of more high street brands and chain stores will turn Norwich into a so-called clone city.

Increased competition

Some independent traders feel that competition from Chapelfield could damage business and lead to the loss of the distinctive shopping experience they can offer.

Paul Dodd, co-owner of the Blue Jean Company in Lower Goat Lane, is one of those worried about the potential threat Chapelfield could pose.

“Unfortunately Norwich at the moment is becoming like any other town," said Mr Dodd.

"You just have to go down Gentleman's Walk to see coffee shops, Cornish pasty shops and phone shops moving in whereas there used to be quite a lot of traditional independent stores there.

"They're just being forced further and further out of the city centre," he added.

Independent businesses

He is optimistic about the opportunities ahead, particularly as he feels people still want the specialist service that small businesses can offer.

He also thinks plans to put up signs in order to create something similar to Brighton's Laines shopping district in Norwich is good news.

In contrast, another independent trader Victor Keller, from Model Mart in Norwich, is not so sure about the city's retail developments.

“Norwich at the moment struggles to have the concept of different quarters as the council would like it to have. We haven't the population to sustain that unfortunately," he said.

Specialist shops

Elsewhere in the county, the market town of Holt is thriving due to its traditional nature. Many shoppers go there to enjoy its unique range of boutiques, delicatessens and specialist stores.

Shopping in Holt, picture by Rod Cartmell
Shopping in Holt

Some people travel from all over the country to sample its distinctive wares. Holt's approach seems to work, with the shops and streets generally bustling with people keen to spend.

David Peroni, owner of a specialist music shop in Holt, feels people who shop in areas which are dominated by big brand name stores are missing out.

"I think it's a shame for the consumer because if you have more shops doing more unusual things it adds a bit of spice to life but if you have the same shops in every town surely it must reduce your choice of what you can purchase," he said.

"Those shops choose what they want to stock and that's all you can buy,” added Mr Peroni. 

Stamp of approval

But Caroline Williams, from the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, thinks Norwich should avoid going down the same route as Holt.

"I think it's important to note that those very successful retailers at Chapelfield want to be in Norwich and we should be concerned if they didn't want to come here," she said. 

"It's important that we also work with the independent retailers to make sure that they're marketed and that Norwich is sold as a whole package," she added.

The £275m development has been built on the grounds of the old Nestle sweet factory which closed in 1996. The Chapelfield site had produced confectionery since 1886 when Albert Caley originally set up his chocolate factory.

The complex has taken three years to build and work is still being completed on 100 apartments.

last updated: 29/09/05
Have Your Say
What do you think of the new Chapelfield development?
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chapelfield is good but it has its bad points
Wed Mar 14 10:12:21 2007

Tue Mar 13 17:46:37 2007

Ian Liston-Smith
I went to the new development last week. It's just like any shopping centre in the USA/Middle East/Asia. It's true, they really are ALL the same - I've been there and seen them. I live in Reading and the town's been blasted sterile by the chain stores. There are literally only four independent shops in the town centre. Norwich is a lovely city, there are dozens of little independent shops throughout the city centre. So to the planners: please protect Norwich's unique and traditional shops.
Wed Feb 21 10:36:42 2007

Its a great place to shop because of the variety but, they should have revamped the old mall instead and filled that up. also they reli shud have respected the church and grave yard a lot more, but overall it's a great shopping centre.
Wed Jan 24 13:55:09 2007

Chapelfield is a great place to shop. It is very new and fresh and the designs are unique and plain. The outside draws you in and once you get in you can't not go back!
Thu Nov 9 12:16:08 2006

sam da chav
i fink chappy is phat yer. da shops r well cool nd dey sell some good stuff in der!! rock on chappy love ya
Fri Sep 8 14:42:10 2006

Mike Foden
I love it, being a girly girl i think that the chapelfield shopping centre is a god send! Not only does it cater for all my needs, it easy 2 get to and meet guys!
Mon Jun 19 12:37:30 2006

Chapelfield has a fine seleciton of shops all of the highest quality! Norwich was in need of a mall with a number of excellent standard shops. It is a beautifully designed building with a lot of unique features! Overall I think it is a wonderful place and has been thoroughly enjoyed so far! xxxxxxxx
Mon May 29 12:15:44 2006

I think chapplefield is a reallly good place to shop. Although some of the shops are highly priced, you do get a high stantard product. luv hannah xx
Mon May 15 20:06:34 2006

Chapelfield is not in keeping with the feel of NOrwich and it could be a fabulous city if it was more traditional and kept away from modernisation and multi-national corporations (kings street has a lovely feel to it with the cobble streets and unique sparsely placed shops it has.) More money should be spent for parks and recreation (i.e. skate park; ketts gardens maintained etc)
Fri May 5 12:02:07 2006

chapelfield is proper phat! its great because its the new place to meet all your m8s. its a bit expensive, but if you have expensive taste then its worth it!! x
Sat Feb 18 11:59:42 2006

It's an impressive building but it is expensive to shop in and was built with no respect for the dead. In short, it has tainted the reputation of Norwich as an original & unique city. We're like every other city now.
Tue Feb 7 15:26:05 2006

Ken Chilver
I did not like it one bit it has no atmosphere and the mix of shops is poor all seem to be at the upper end of the retail market.I will not bother to shop there again
Sun Jan 29 12:26:10 2006

Chapelfield is a fine example of why we shouldn't let developers think! its the single biggest waist of space ever. shop at the castle mall norwiches 1 and only mall!
Sat Dec 17 23:54:34 2005

We dont need another mall spend the money on an indoor skatepark!!!!!! :-)
Sun Dec 11 17:15:33 2005

Tim D
Chapelfield. Another fine example of mass commercialism in action. Step inside and you could be in any mall anywhere in the UK. It houses the same tired fast 'food' joints selling the same rubbish they always do, but then the consumers will love it because they're told they will. Frightful pile of garbage.
Wed Dec 7 08:42:15 2005

i think it is well isnt really that expensive has all the latest fashion has great food places too.i dont think its too bad for the castle mall because the people who shop in old mall said there were more people coming in.also it will bring in more people to the city.
Thu Nov 17 17:13:25 2005

i think the new shopping mall is good but has probably took all of the old malls profits away
Tue Nov 8 15:08:56 2005

I think it's fantastic, a realy great place to come and shop and eat!
Wed Oct 26 14:34:18 2005

I can't believe they actually built through a graveyard. Its no wonder there is such total disrespect for cemetaries in Britain. In a recent visit to the UK I was totally disgusted seeing whole cemetaries with the stones overturned. What is in the minds of people who do such things. I guess the disrespect you show just encourages that type of behaviour.
Tue Oct 25 18:07:51 2005

Is it just me that finds the access to the new shopping centre distasteful? Shoppers stomping through a graveyard, over the bodies of the dead - all for 'Zara', 'Mango' and skinny lattes - the headstones of the diseased stacked up at the sides like unused buliding materials. Yuck. Commercialism at its most vulgar and cynical.
Wed Oct 19 19:46:46 2005

its a benefit to consumers but not to stores in other parts of the city. its new, get over it
Mon Oct 17 17:54:30 2005

Lynn Scott
I think the mall is great! I don't think it will harm castle mall as the shops are very different, I will still use both.
Mon Oct 17 10:14:48 2005

Fiona Ward
I love it. Great for a girlie day out, shame not many baby shops though. Will still go to lakeside for Xmas shopping though. Nice to have House Of Fraser in Norwich - fab shop.
Tue Oct 11 17:08:57 2005

dont get your hopes up its not as good as you think its just like the duty free in airports
Mon Oct 10 13:51:22 2005

Mon Oct 10 06:40:42 2005

john o
we used to go to london to shop but not any more we love chapelfields if people dont want to walk through the church their are other entrances
Sun Oct 9 18:02:43 2005

I have been really happy to know that brands such as Zara and mango were coming to Norwich but I was not impressed to see that the majority of the mall shops are brands that have already 1 to 2 shops in the city center some diversity would have been more than welcome...
Fri Oct 7 15:04:18 2005

Jason Mitchell
I've heard that a lot of the big shops are moving into the new centre. Does this mean we are going to have lots of shops empty in Norwich? Or worse are the council going to allow lots of cheap shops to move and plaster their windows with huge luminous posters. I sincerely hope not.
Fri Sep 30 02:17:18 2005

danielle dexter
i think it is great
Thu Sep 29 19:36:23 2005

I was there the other day. I felt the layout was much better than the other mall, although I feel the mall is a lot more welcoming to the customers.
Thu Sep 29 15:27:20 2005

Geoff Dunn
I was quite amazed to suddenly 'discover' this huge new architechtural gem in good old tacky St Stephens! Now I know what Lord Carnarvon must have felt like when he discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun! Apparently, there were even 1000's of 'slaves'working through the night to ready Chapefield for the grand opening! WoW ! I'm speechless (well almost!). The most impressive feature by far though, is the very authentic (and atmospheric) undertakers & stone masons 'shop' at the Theatre St. entrance with a very sobering selection of tombstones on display. It made me think of that favourite retail therapists phrase "shop till you drop"! Seriously though, I'd have thought a more cultural building such as a multi-purpose theatre/operahouse/ exhibition-hall would have been far more beneficial to Norwich in the long term however.
Thu Sep 29 00:16:57 2005

naomi cook
i think its very nice alot more classy then the old mall but its very bpricy.
Tue Sep 27 16:23:57 2005

Louise McDonald
Upon my first visit to the mall I had to walk past workmen digging up bones and picking them up and laughing about them - not a pleasant greeting to the new complex and a total lack of respect.
Tue Sep 27 09:32:23 2005

Shame they have dug through the middle of St Stephens graveyard with no respect for the dead.
Tue Sep 27 09:24:32 2005

Chris Moore
The first Saturday of opening is probably not the best time to visit. However, I do wonder if there is an acoustics problem - the noise level was exceptionally high and echoing, and the aisles felt uncomfortably crowded. The approach from Theatre Street is muddled. Reserving judgement til another visit!
Mon Sep 26 18:16:53 2005

I think the new mall is great. All the new shops are really good. When I first went there I felt like I was in London! The only thing I don't agree on is the path that's been built through the graveyard. I think it's disrespectful to the graves they've dug up and covered up with soil.
Sun Sep 25 20:19:13 2005

Why did they open it when so many shops were obviously not ready? When I went in on the opening day it felt like they could of done with another week to prepare
Fri Sep 23 20:47:26 2005

Paul B
Why not exchange the location with that of the Norfolk and norwich hospital. This would truely benefit the people of Norwich and make for real out of town shopping with a hospital within the community
Fri Sep 23 14:07:43 2005

Elisabeth Gauthier
I am a Brit and live in the USA. Was home last month and noticed the lack of the "little shops", now it's more Mall shopping as we have here in the US. I missed shopping for the china I love, could not find it in the shops!!
Fri Sep 23 12:47:32 2005

Martin Pearce
Well all I can say is WOW. The place is so modern and very open. House of Fraser is huge but very expensive, like most of the shops in the new development. The only down point is the churchyard development - they have made a real mess with it. I think it is very upsetting for church users.
Fri Sep 23 00:02:04 2005

David B
As someone who moved to Norwich from London last year, I think Norwich needed a destination like Chapelfield to put it on the shopping map. If the Castle Mall reacts in the correct way it too will benefit from increased shoppers generally, but it will need to find its own niche in the mid-range non-fashion area. As for the specialist shops, they can be hard to find for the day shopper so they will need to me marketed as a particular village (like Brighton's Laines) with a new identity, signs and more pedestrian only areas.
Thu Sep 22 12:55:23 2005

Dee, Norfolk
Firstly, the Castle Mall was a shambles anyway, with its handbag stalls, garden furniture and double glazing displays and chewing gum in the fountain. For a while it felt like that for every lift that broke, an extra poster went up telling us how great it was to shop there! St Stephen's was on its last legs and Chapelfield will help draw custom to this area. I will continue to use select local businesses, the way I always did, when I went to Castle Mall. I just won't have to go there anymore. It is entirely their managment's fault for not bothering to haul that ratty dump out of the '90s!
Thu Sep 22 11:03:48 2005

Sarah Humphries
I believe that this will bring affluence to Norwich and it will draw the kind of people that we wish to have shopping in our fair city. House of Fraser has arrived and all I can say is bravo!
Thu Sep 22 10:04:51 2005

It is not a big deal that just a new shopping mall is coming to us. The result of competition among those shops will benefit customers coz it will lead to kinds of promotions coming up in the future.
Thu Sep 22 02:27:01 2005

Andy Back
As for Gentleman's Walk, given the choice of Mr Buy-Right or Starbucks, I know what I'd prefer. Let's not forget that both Chapelfield and The Mall are city centre based. They should help generate sustained footfall both on Gentleman's walk and St Stephen's as they're both arterial routes. Buses to get to the city centre are another issue though!
Wed Sep 21 22:31:46 2005

It reminds me of an airport terminal, on the inside, outside it looks nice.
Wed Sep 21 21:02:07 2005

Marvin Grorey
Have just got back from visiting the new centre - I have to say that it is very impressive. However, I do believe that the Castle Mall will suffer quite badly, turning it in to a larger version of Anglia Square. By the way, I don't class that as a good thing!
Wed Sep 21 20:48:29 2005

I can only imagine, not living in Norwich, but would imagine that it will just spawn as much chavdom as other places such as Bluewater. Bring on the hoodies, hey! Good luck to them.
Wed Sep 21 19:15:39 2005

Sarah Barker
I am still asking myself, does Norwich really need another shopping centre? It seems that we are neglecting what we already have to bring in what we may not need and independent traders are suffering the most. Are people, who are coming into Norwich to visit Chapelfield, going to look around the rest of the city and see what we really have to offer - or are they just going to stay in Chapelfield? I am waiting to see what effect this new development is going to have the city as a whole and how many retail units are going to become empty.
Wed Sep 21 18:03:18 2005

Just like a mini-Lakeside.I fear it might kill off the Castle Mall though....
Wed Sep 21 17:43:26 2005

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