Golden Square director on Warrington town centre bouncing back

Ian Cox, the centre’s director, says he seems to have read and heard the phrase too often over the years, especially with challenges post-Covid.

While Warrington is not immune to this, like every other town centre in the UK, it is how well you bounce back that is important, he said.

Moreover, it is his belief that despite the retail sector facing a fight like never before, he firmly believes the town is well and truly bouncing back.

“The reality we need to face up to is that retail and the high street will never return to the way it was before 2020,” Ian told the Warrington Guardian.

“Instead, we must evolve, change and adapt to a new world, focusing on creating a town centre with a point of difference.

“People do not like change, and most resist it and push back, longing for the safety and comfort of what we know and what we are used to.

“But the reality of not embracing change is that nothing moves forward, and this then has a damaging effect on the places where we currently live our lives.”

Rio has been praised as a real success story

Rio has been praised as a real success story

Ian says that Warrington town centre is bigger and has more shops, bars, cafés and restaurants than at any point in its history.

While it also has more variety, events and things to do than ever before, Ian says he still hears that nothing good ever happens in Warrington.

“Time Square opened at the worst possible time just before Covid hit, but the market goes from strength to strength,” he continued.

“We finally have a fantastic town centre cinema and bars such as The Botanist and Costello’s that would not look out of place in Manchester and Liverpool.

“Makers Market Sunday’s, Young Traders Markets, as well as a full program of events throughout the year in front of the market show there is an appetite to keep pushing on and providing quality reasons to visit Time Square.

“At Golden Square we have seen national retailers shut, just as they did in all town centres across the UK.

“But I would like to think we have bounced back a lot better than our similarly sized neighbours like St Helens, Runcorn, Widnes and Wigan.”

Ian Cox during one of the summer events at Golden Square

Ian Cox during one of the summer events at Golden Square

In the past 12 months, Golden Square has welcomed 16 new retailers and lost four, with Ian highlighting how Rio has quickly become, not only one of the most popular restaurants in Warrington, but in the region.

Other new openings show how the face of the town centre is changing, including Jungle Mania children’s soft play, Turret Orthodontics and Funky Figures, which specialises in rare collectables and memorabilia.

Looking forward, Ian said: “There are several new deals already agreed to open this year, and we are seeing existing retailers expanding and re-fitting their current stores, showing a clear vote of confidence in our town centre.

“Footfall is on the rise too, with this year being significantly up compared to 2022 – and it shows no sign of stopping.

“But does anything really good ever happen? I have mentioned Time Square’s events, while the Pyramid and Parr Hall literally have too many amazing shows to mention.

“We have just had an amazing two days at Neighbourhood Festival in Victoria Park, and the Rugby League World Cup anyone?

“Golden Square has an events calendar with something for everyone, and in the last month we have hosted Indie Disco with live performances from Clint Boon and Bez, plus an Oasis tribute band that blew the roof off the Old Market Square.”

Other events include hosting the best in local emerging talent at Warrington Music Festival and a free outdoor cinema over Easter, with a family fun fair planned for the summer school holidays.

The recent Indie Disco event was also a huge hit

The recent Indie Disco event was also a huge hit

Symphonic Ibiza is back in September, plus Warrington Masters Darts Tournament is set to soon welcome some of the best darts players in the world.

“If that is not enough, this week we are hosting Warrington’s biggest ever pride event, with Fleur East headlining a full day of activities – and it is all for free,” Ian added.

“Pride I think is a very apt word – we should be proud of all the stuff happening in Warrington.

“This town centre deserves more than the label ‘nothing ever happens in Warrington’, although some will disagree and take to keyboards to do so.

“We all know that Warrington is far from perfect. Do we have anti-social behaviour? Do we have grot-spots? Do we have challenges? Of course we do, but show me a town centre that does not.

“Actually, what is important is that we try to come together to continue to drive this town forward.

“Maybe it is time to change that narrative, because if you say something often enough, people start to believe it regardless of the reality, and actually – there is loads of good stuff happening in Warrington.”

Warrington Guardian | What’s On