Trafford Centre
The Trafford Centre is a large indoor shopping centre and leisure complex located in the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford in Greater Manchester, is located nearby the industrial estate of Trafford Park with the nearest districts being Urmston and Davyhulme. The planning process for the Trafford Centre was one of the longest and most expansive in the history of the United Kingdom with concerns surrounding the effect the shopping centre would have on retailers in smaller towns and villages in the Greater Manchester conurbation and also traffic problems being so close to the M60 motorway. Ultimately the matter was decided by the House of Lords in 1996, which voted in favour of the development. Twelve years after the Trafford Centre was first conceptualised by developers the Peel Group, the shopping centre opened in September 1998. Construction took 27 months and cost approximately £600 million (approximately £750M as of 2010), excluding new expansion such as Barton Square and redevelopment of some areas for anchor tenants. The Trafford Centre is popularly known for its vivid and quirky resemblance to a rococo/late baroque architectural style. The centre is the sixth largest shopping centre in the UK by retail size and overall employs 8,000 people. Furthermore the centre attracts 30 million visits annually while 10 percent of the UK population live within a 45-minute drive of the shopping centre. It also boasts Europe's largest food court in The Orient and the UK's busiest cinema, attracting over 28,500 visitors each week.

Planning process
Peel submitted a planning application to Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council in 1986. The application was subsequently "called in" by the Secretary of State for the Environment, and it took nine years to resolve planning issues. In 1995, the House of Lords gave approval for the Trafford Centre to be built.

Architecture and design
The Trafford Centre was built by Bovis Lend Lease and opened in 1998, it has 137,346.65 square metres (1,478,387.0 sq ft) of retail space. It is made up of four main areas: Peel Avenue, Regent Crescent, The Dome, and The Orient. The centre is owned by Peel Holdings. It was designed so that visitors enter on both of the two main shopping floors in equal numbers. This helps avoid the problem suffered by other centres, such as the MetroCentre, where visitors do not go to upper floors, with the result that many big retailers avoid upper floor units. The Trafford Centre's interior and exterior architecture is Rococo/late Baroque in design, and decorated primarily in shades of white, pink and gold with ivory, jade and caramel coloured marble throughout. Some have complimented the marble flooring, which are polished every night along with rails and opulent style. Others however have criticised the deception of the fake palm trees and neo-classical decorative pillars which are not marble. Peel Holdings, say that the striking and extrovert architecture is aimed at providing visual delight to make visitors shopping experience more vivid and interesting. Portraits running around the top of the walls of the mall depict members of the Whittaker family, founders of owner Peel Holdings. A Mercedes car belonging to the mother of Peel Holdings' chairman, John Whittaker, is on display on the first floor mall outside F. Hinds .

2011 sale
The Peel Group agreed the sale of the centre to Capital Shopping Centres in January 2011 for £1.6bn . This followed a failed £2.9bn bid by Simon Property Group for Capital Shopping Centres.

Focal points

The Orient
The Trafford Centre's main non-retail is located in a central hall-like spur called The Orient, primarily a 1,600-seat food court which is mainly themed on a ship but incorporates designs from around the world including China, New Orleans, Egypt, Italy, America and Morocco. On both floors, The Orient has dozens of restaurants and bars including The Exchange Bar & Grill, Starbucks, Est Est Est, Ma Potter's, Nando's and Cathay Dim Sum. There are also several popular fast food outlets ”“ McDonald's, KFC, Subway, Harry Ramsdens and Pizza Hut among others. Furthermore the area also has non-dining facilities and includes a 20-screen Odeon multiplex cinema (which is the busiest in the UK), a Laser Quest arena, Paradise Island Adventure Golf ( miniature golf), a large Namco Centre with Dodgems, Bowling, and Arcade games.

The Great Hall
The Great Hall houses an elegant sweeping staircase featuring hundreds of metres of marble balustrade from China, and the largest chandelier in the world. The chandelier was designed by English lighting consultants, and then sent to China for manufacture; assembly and installation was done by local contractors. The chandelier has three levels of plant walkways inside, is around 11 m (36 feet) wide and 15 m (49 feet) high, weighs around five tonnes, and has more lighting control systems than most shopping centres. A new area adjoining the Orient, known as The Great Hall, opened fully in March 2007, although a Costa Coffee outlet opened earlier in January 2007. This new glazed structure houses five new restaurants and cafes. The decision to extend the current dining facilities was due to the growth in demand amongst visitors wishing to dine during their stay, or indeed visit The Trafford Centre during the evening specifically for food and drink.

Shopping areas and stores

Peel Avenue
Peel Avenue is home to the high street shops such as an Apple Store, H&M, and Boots. It is also home to two department stores, the new John Lewis which opened in 2005 at the end of Peel Avenue, and the newly refubished four-storey Marks & Spencer, (see below). The space now occupied by John Lewis was previously a market area known as the Festival Village. The latest development to be completed is the new four-storey Marks and Spencer. This now features an outside entrance to the foodhall, which will mean that customers doing their food shopping at Marks and Spencer can take their bags straight out to the car park, rather than walking through the mall. The Dome is in the middle of the centre and is home to more upmarket stores such as the first Selfridges outside of London. Regent Crescent is home to many high end designer stores, including Karen Millen, Jane Norman, Gap and Mexx. It also houses the bookshop Waterstones and two department stores, BHS and Debenhams which stretches into the Regent Crescent area of the shopping centre as well.

Regent Crescent
Regent Crescent is mainly home to lifestyle and fashion retailers including Reiss, Mango, Monsoon, Coast, French Connection, All Saints and department store Debenhams. The crescent leads to the dome where the first Selfridges to open outside London is housed as an anchor tenant.

Barton Square
The Trafford Centre announced in October 2005 that permission had been granted for further expansion. The additional 19,000 square metres (200,000 sq ft), which cost £70M, is known as Barton Square and opened on 20 March 2008. The name of the square relates to the nearby area of Eccles and to another of Peel's nearby ventures, City Airport Manchester, which was formerly called Barton Aerodrome. Barton Square is located to the west of the main building and is linked to the rest of the centre via a glazed bridge. The architecture is based on an Italian square and includes a large fountain as well as a campanile tower. This section of the centre targets high-quality homewares market with a variety of units offering furniture, kitchens, bathrooms, home furnishings and other goods that are available elsewhere in the Trafford Centre. Retailers operating so far are Next Home, BHS Home, Dwell, Laura Ashley and Habitat. Marks and Spencer Home are due to open their largest store in Barton Square, while keeping their newly extended main store open in Peel Avenue in the centre. A further 630 free parking spaces have also been provided. Further adjacent vacant ground exists for future expansion of Barton Square.

Opening hours
The stores are open Monday”“Friday from 10 am ”“ 10 pm, Saturday 10 am ”“ 8 pm (some stores opening at 9 am) and Sunday 12 noon ”“ 6 pm with some stores open from 11 am. (However, the Sunday Trading Act 1994 restricts this to a maximum of 6 hours trade.) Stores extend their closing times to 11 pm on weekdays in the run-up to Christmas. The Orient section of the centre is open longer than the retail stores, until at least midnight all week. The Odeon cinema is open from 9:40 am ”“ 1 am Sunday”“Thursday and from 9:40 am ”“ 3 am on Friday”“Saturday.

Travel and transport

The Trafford Centre has over 10,000 car spaces and 350 coach spaces and is situated just off the M60 (Junctions 9 and 10). The popularity of the centre has frequently resulted in traffic congestion on the M60's Barton High-Level Bridge, which it is hoped will be alleviated by a new link road, running adjacent to the M60 and crossing the ship canal on a new swing bridge. All vehicles entering The Trafford Centre have their number plate details recorded via automatic number plate recognition. Since its introduction in 2003 the system has reduced the number of thefts of and from vehicles to a level described as "negligible".

Bus routes
Numerous bus routes run to the Trafford Centre and a full directory of the bus services can be found on the Trafford Centre's website .Major bus links include:
  • X50 - Operated with the aim of providing the quickest bus route from the city centre of Manchester to the Trafford Centre. The bus is provided by Stagecoach Manchester and runs from Stand K at Piccadilly Gardens with a frequency of 30 minutes.
  • 100 - The 100 service, operated by First Manchester, is a bus link direct from Manchester Shudehill Bus Station via Eccles and Salford. The service runs from early till late 363 days a year, every 12 minutes, and is provided using specially branded modern low floor easy-access buses. You can catch the 100 service from stand K at Shudehill Interchange.
  • 250 - The 250 service, operated by Stagecoach Manchester, is a bus link direct from Manchester Piccadilly Gardens via Manchester United Football Stadium and Manchester University. The service runs from early till late 364 days a year, every 10-15 minutes, and is provided using modern low floor easy-access buses. You can catch the 250 service from stand K at Piccadilly Gardens.
  • 22 - Operated jointly by First Manchester and Stagecoach Manchester with evening journeys operated in the evening by Stagecoach - the bus runs from Stockport to Bolton through Burnage, Chorlton, Stretford, Urmston and the Trafford Centre

Manchester Metrolink bus link
Currently (as of 2011) there is no direct Metrolink tram service to the Trafford Centre, however there are numerous bus links and bus routes which run from Metrolink stations to the Trafford Centre.
  • ML1 - The shuttle bus links The Trafford Centre to Stretford Metrolink station, every 20 minutes.

Future transport
Metrolink extension It is envisaged a new Manchester Metrolink line will be constructed sometime in the future - however the expansion plan to the Trafford Centre is in its infancy and resources are currently being focused on completing the current extension of the Metrolink by 2016. Manchester Ship Canal ferries Plans have been in place since 2006 for a service from Salford Quays to the Trafford Centre. Peel Holdings own both the Trafford Centre and the Manchester Ship Canal which creating the possibility of ferries transporting passengers to the Trafford Centre. Planning permission was granted in 2006 for the construction of a 600-metre (2,000 ft) canal linking the Trafford Centre with the Manchester Ship Canal, allowing for the introduction of a water taxi service to and from Salford Quays. Construction is expected to take about a year, although no official start date has yet been announced for the project. As of 2010, none of the plans of utilising the Manchester Ship Canal as a transport link have come to fruition despite new proposals since 2006.

In popular culture
The Trafford Centre is a major sponsor of Salford City Reds rugby league club. Shortly after its opening, the centre provided the setting for Shopping City, a BBC2 daytime programme. In 2010, the shopping centre was also the focal point of the BBC TV show, The Apprentice in which during week 5 both teams had to sell designer clothes in the Trafford Centre for one day only.

Building Activity

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