Bell Court and Stratford Bouncing Back

The owner of Bell Court in Stratford-upon-Avon believes the town centre is well positioned to bounce back from the pandemic and changing retail patterns.

John Stacey, managing director of Blue Coast Capital which has owned the courtyard development since 2014 and invested around £30 million into the scheme, has reported increases of 20-30 per cent in footfall on pre-Covid levels with many of the units reporting improved trading.

Stacey sits on the Stratford Town Centre Strategic Partnership which is looking at major improvements to the town – including how to help drive the retail economy.

He believes that the partnership, the make-up of the town centre and the strength of the Shakespeare brand could help the heart of Stratford weather the current economic storm better than many other similar-sized towns.

The partnership is currently looking at how the problem of void retail units can be solved and is planning to meet town centre freeholders in the coming months.

Stacey, whose firm has property interests across the UK, wider Europe and the US, believes there are several indicators which show Stratford is faring better than many.

He said: “At the last partnership meeting, Stratford’s mayor Cllr Kevin Taylor reported that 23 units had been filled since the pandemic with the vast majority of those being independents and that has to be good news.

“Bell Court tenants have reported strong trading levels and we anticipate that will continue as customers become more confident and as visitors continue to return.

“The majority of Stratford town centre units are small and therefore suitable for independent or niche businesses, which we would expect to drive demand in the next few years.  The draw of Shakespeare means the town has a very strong identity which will be the case long after we are over this challenging period.

“We work up and down the country and I think the Town Centre Strategic Partnership is a really positive initiative. It is transparent, a very wide range of stakeholders are represented and everyone is there because they want to improve the town in the best way possible.

“The fact that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet is a massive plus and that will help the town move quicker than those who do not have a similar body.”

Blue Coast Capital recently announced it is seeking planning to introduce a 148-bed Motto by Hilton Hotel into the former Debenhams unit following the closure of the department store in early 2020.

John added: “There has to be flexibility around the repurposing of vacant retail units, particularly larger units, to facilitate regeneration.  Our view is that the introduction of a wider range of complementary uses into the town centre, alongside public realm improvements, will only help to broaden the overall offer of the town.

“There has been a major shift in shopping patterns across the UK and this has created a supply and demand imbalance for retail properties.

“A variety of alternative uses need to be considered, including residential, cultural, educational, leisure and offices amongst others, to ensure the town centres are able to offer the services and experiences that are required to continue to attract shoppers and visitors alike.

“Every town centre is suffering similar problems through the structural changes affecting retail patterns and this has just been accelerated by the impact of Covid.  The Partnership will prove vital in helping Stratford adapt and evolve to overcome these issues.”

Newly created office space available at Bell Court for first time

Businesses in Warwickshire now have the opportunity to work from the heart of one of Stratford-upon-Avon’s favourite destinations for the first time, with new office space available at Bell Court.

Offering around 3,000 sq ft of modern, high-quality space, the first floor office is located at the centre of the scheme, above Nandos and overlooking the pedestrianised square at the heart of Bell Court.

The new space, which is the first office facility to be made available at Bell Court, is fully DDA compliant and provides a fitted kitchenette and toilets. The estate itself, offers a wide range of leisure and retail amenities and an NCP car park on-site, as well as being within a few minutes’ walk from Stratford-upon-Avon train station.

The air-conditioned office can be let in its entirety, in part, and also has the potential to be used for flexible working or serviced office concepts.

Large open plan office with laptops and separate meeting rooms.

Holly Woodhead from Blue Coast Capital, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to base themselves at Bell Court for the first time, and the development has a lot to offer to potential tenants looking to work from one of the town’s favourite locations.

“The view of the office has changed dramatically since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and businesses are beginning to look at locations which offer more to their staff and Bell Court’s range of amenities is a huge incentive.

“The office space itself is modern, flexible and high-quality, but it is the location within the bustling surroundings of Bell Court that sets the space apart.  We look forward to welcoming a new type of business to Bell Court.”

For further information on the office space at Bell Court please contact BCCAP asset manager Holly Woodhead: [email protected].

Introducing our 2020 Charity Partner!

Bell Court has chosen Stratford-upon-Avon’s Escape Arts as its charity partner for 2020, meaning shoppers will be treated to some exciting, family friendly arts, crafts, music and theatre!

Both Bell Court and Escape Arts are busy putting together a programme of fundraising activities which will kick off at the leisure and retail destination with a launch event on Random Acts of Kindness Day on Monday 17th February, so keep your eye out for more information.

The award-winning Escape Arts uses creative and heritage-led workshops to bring people of all age groups together and support their wellbeing. All money raised from the partnership will be used to support and develop its work.

The partnership with Bell Court marks a homecoming for the charity, as it used to be based on the site of Bell Court before the redevelopment, when it moved to its current home at the Old Slaughterhouse Heritage & Arts Centre off Sheep Street.

Karen Williams, Chief Executive Officer at Escape Arts said ‘we are absolutely delighted to be working with the team at Bell Court, we have very fond memories of working in the space and look forward to involving the whole community across a fantastic programme of creative fundraising activities celebrating local people, local businesses and the heritage of our fabulous town.

Rich Jones, Centre Manager of Bell Court, added: “We have chosen Escape Arts as they do some really great work in the Stratford-upon-Avon community with people of all ages, from children to seniors. I’m confident this is going to be a very beneficial and collaborative partnership that will raise much needed funds for this brilliant charity.”

Celebrating the new year with three new tenants

Stratford’s premier shopping and leisure destination, Bell Court, is roaring into 2020 with the announcement of three new tenants, adding yet more exciting brands to the already varied list of national and independent retailers.

Following on from a successful 2019, Bell Court is excited to welcome three new brands to the scheme, including; MOR Bakery & Kitchen, Black Sheep Barbers and The Burger Priest. These new tenants come hot off the heels of Oriental restaurant, Kung Fu who will be opening imminently, and two new independents; White Light Gallery and Balou Clothing which will continue to strengthen the centre’s offering.

Within the next few months, shoppers to Bell Court can enjoy delicious artisan baked goods from MOR Bakery & Kitchen, or if it’s a sharp hair cut or a spot of grooming you’re after, Black Sheep Barbers is the place to go! And why not finish your day with a gourmet burger made from 100% Aberdeen Angus beef from The Burger Priest – delicious!

David Pearson, owner of MOR Bakery & Kitchen, comments: “We’re very excited to be launching at Bell Court. For too long Stratford town centre has been without a true bakery. MOR is going to change that. Our hearts are set on using local produce to make and bake from scratch from our open kitchen. The overwhelmingly positive feedback has fuelled our drive to get started and welcome sourdough, breakfast and coffee enthusiasts through the doors. Looking forward, the future of MOR holds regular feast nights, workshops and pop ups. It’s going to be an adventure.”

Christian Williams, owner of Black Sheep Barbers. Adds: “Our recent launch in Bell Court has been fantastic. The reception has been incredibly supportive with a great clientele already starting to build up. We look forward to growing even more over the coming months.”

John Stacey, UK Real Estate Director at Blue Coast Capital, the owners of Bell Court, comments: “We’re extremely pleased to announce the imminent arrival of MOR Bakery & Kitchen, Black Sheep Barbers and The Burger Priest. All three offerings, opening soon, will be fantastic additions to Bell Court and Stratford.

“We have always strived to deliver a well-rounded and varied mix of national, regional and independent retailers to Stratford through Bell Court and look forward to welcoming our new tenants in the coming months.”

Highlighting the continued success of the development and bucking the UK trend, Bell Court saw an average increase in footfall of 5% last year, compared to the 2.4% decrease nationally. These figures not only show the success of the scheme, but also the resilience of Stratford as a whole.

John continues: “We had a strong 2019, against what has been yet another very challenging year for the High Street and Retail sector.  The exciting new brands joining the scheme will only enhance Bell Court and improve the overall visitor experience, 2020 is shaping up to be just as successful.”

Lit up for Christmas at Bell Court

This weekend we welcomed the festive season with our annual Christmas Light Switch On, filling Bell Court with twinkling lights.

Everyone who joined us for the big moment got to see Father Christmas himself turning on the lights with the help of Charlie Davies, winner of the Stratforward Make a Wish Competition, after they enjoyed a carriage ride around the town.

Throughout the day, visitors enjoyed carols and Christmas tunes from Birmingham Brass Band, Omnium Gatherum Choir and Two Tone, as well as tucking into free hot chestnuts.

We hope you enjoyed the start of Christmas at Bell Court and don’t forget to share your photos on our Facebook (Bell Court Stratford), Twitter (@BellCourtLife) and Instagram (@bellcourtstratford) pages!

Birmingham Brass Band playing
Pictured ar Birmingham Brass Band starting the day’s festivities. Photo by David Fawbert.
Man handing our hot chestnuts
Pictured is a visitor enjoying free hot chestnuts. Photo by David Fawbert.
Omnium Gatherum choir singing
Pictured is Omnium Gatherum choir singing to the crowds moments before the switch on. Photo by David Fawbert.
Charlie and Father Christmas after switch on the lights
Pictured is competition winner Charlie Davies with Father Christmas after switching on the lights. Photo by David Fawbert.
Crowds enjoying the Christmas lights
Pictured is the crowds enjoying the lights after the big switch on. Photo by David Fawbert.
Two Tone Acoustic playing
Pictured is Two Tone Acoustic playing upbeat tunes to close the day. Photo by David Fawbert.
Visitors enjoying the Christmas lights
Pictured are visitors enjoying the lights after the switch on. Photo by David Fawbert.