Search

How Chapelfield helped put Norwich on the retail map

PUBLISHED: 15:17 26 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:17 26 June 2020

The former chocolate factory, now Chapefield. Pic: Archant

The former chocolate factory, now Chapefield. Pic: Archant

Archant

With the future of Norwich’s Chapelfield shopping centre unclear, we take a look back at its history.

The site of Chapelfield where the chocolate factory used to be. Pic: ArchantThe site of Chapelfield where the chocolate factory used to be. Pic: Archant

The owner of Chapelfield, Intu, has gone into administration but has said is shopping centres can continue to trade for the ‘time being.’

The centre opened to a big fanfare on September 21, 2005, with its new three-floor flagship House of Fraser department store immediately catapulting Norwich to the centre of the retail map. It was one of the largest shopping centres to open in Britain at that time with 80 shops and 17 cafés and restaurants.

MORE: Norfolk couple to marry for second time after Boris Johnson says ‘I do’ to weddings

The site of the former chocolate factories now Chapelfield. Pic: ArchantThe site of the former chocolate factories now Chapelfield. Pic: Archant

Together with Norwich’s other shopping mall, now called Castle Quarter, suddenly the city became a serious contender as a place to live, work or visit. With Chapelfield’s restaurants both inside and outside and in easy walk of the centre, there was a real buzz and suddenly a vast choice for local people who’d been used to very little variety. For Norwich to get a large House of Fraser was at the time a big coup and then other huge names such as the Apple store and Disney – before people would have had to travel to Cambridge or even London to get this retail experience.

The shopping centre had an immediate affinity with Norwich too because it was built on the site of the former Nestle and Rowntree Mackintosh chocolate factory and when it was created, it rekindled many memories. But it also gave a huge boost to Norwich’s economy bringing jobs and also with its properties built around the development, new homes, commercial opportunities as well as boosting tourism.

Five years ago it held a big 10 year celebration with people dressed as moonwalkers welcoming in the first shoppers and a dazzling catwalk show held in its centre. It was the hub of excitement bringing a whole new lifestyle Norwich hadn’t experienced before.

Chapelfield shopping centre. Pic: ArchantChapelfield shopping centre. Pic: Archant

But over the past few years, with the nature of shopping changing, and the rise in popularity of coffee shops and more of an ‘experience’ when buying, the centre came under fire for not being individual enough. It worked on this as seen by the opening of local independent retailer Lisa Angel who has a store there.

But owning such a big asset and all its associated costs meant Intu started to struggle financially.

And then came the biggest blow of all – coronavirus. Not only did this mean shops were closed but it also meant rent payments were in doubt going forward. It was the beginning of the end.

The former chocolate factory where Chapelfield is ow. Pic: ArchantThe former chocolate factory where Chapelfield is ow. Pic: Archant

Chapelfield shopping centre. Pic: ArchantChapelfield shopping centre. Pic: Archant

An aerial view of the Chapelfield site. Pic: ArchantAn aerial view of the Chapelfield site. Pic: Archant

Chapelfield shopping centre. Pic: ArchantChapelfield shopping centre. Pic: Archant

You may also want to watch:

Chapelfield shopping centre. Pic: ArchantChapelfield shopping centre. Pic: Archant


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Norwich Evening News. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the Evening News
digital edition

Subscribe

Most Read

Latest from the Norwich Evening News