£18.5m shopping extravaganza unveiled

PUBLISHED: 18:41 09 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:59 22 October 2010

Plans for an ambitious £18.5m redevelopment of the East's oldest shopping centre have been unveiled.

Plans for an ambitious £18.5m redevelopment of the East's oldest shopping centre have been unveiled.

Officials in Yarmouth welcomed the application for the Market Gates centre today, hinting that it would spell the end for an unpopular out-of-town retail centre that causes congestion chaos.

And developers promised a whole host of new major shops currently missing from the town, potentially including music, book and high-street fashion stores.

When Market Gates was built in 1975 it ushered in a new era for shoppers in the region, with thousands flocking to Yarmouth town centre to experience stores of all varieties under one roof.

Centrepiece was a new Sainsbury's, at the heart of a warren of dark red walkways with dark walls, gold ceilings and chandeliers.

Sainsbury's moved out in 1990 and the centre underwent s £2m refit, with a new entrance and escalators installed and a lighter, brighter feel.

But that too has become dated, with new owners Miller Developments promising to revamp the centre, on Regent Road, when it bought it last December for £33m.

Today plans were announced to place a four-storey extension on the road bridge that links the main centre to its car park.

The glass-panelled extension, stretching high into the sky, will increase the centre's size by a third, up from 155,000sq ft to 210,000sq ft. It will create space for three new large stores and nine other shops.

Miller Developments retail director Mark Hewett said: “The extension to Market Gates is a reflection of the demand for good quality retail space in Yarmouth.

“We're hoping to attract retailers new to East Anglia which Chapelfield in Norwich brought in, who might now want to extend their reach.

“Discussions haven't started with any firms yet but we're looking to bring the likes of H&M, music stores, things that Yarmouth is missing at the moment.”

Work will start in spring 2007 and be completed within a year, but first the extension will first have to win planning approval from Yarmouth Borough Council.

Today senior officials welcomed the application. Deputy chief executive Mark Barrow said: “The new extension will be a significant boost for the town centre, providing valuable inward investment and allowing us to compete with the other retail centres in the region.”

And deputy leader Barry Stone hinted that this application would sound the death-knell for new extensions to the out-of-town Gapton Hall retail estate, which is beset by traffic congestion each day.

He said: “The council welcomes the prospect of major new investment to the town centre. A report in July will indicate future retail floorspace needs in the town.

“It will influence the council's decision on not only this proposal but at least three other pending retail proposals near Gapton Hall.”

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