Market Gates bid to attract ‘anchor’ stores

NEW plans have been unveiled for another extension to Great Yarmouth’s recently improved Market Gates shopping centre – with bigger units to attract bigger names.

The scheme focuses on remodelling and extending the southern end of the complex close to Regent Road adding a lift where there is currently only escalator access.

The re-jig is aimed at creating the right-sized shops to attract “anchor” stores missing from the town’s shopping mix and creating a second main entrance equal in scale to the Market Place opening.

It comes after an �18.5m redevelopment which increased the centre’s size by a third and lured Debenhams back to the town in 2008.

The scheme, which is phase two of potentially four, is seen as evidence that its Edinburgh-based owners Miller Developments are pleased with the centre’s performance and see more mileage in it since taking it over five years ago.

Head of planning policy at Great Yarmouth Borough Council Peter Warner said it had the potential to deliver a boost to the town.

The application, to be decided by committee in April/May, includes a welcome overhaul of the bus station’s gloomy lighting – discussed on Monday by scrutiny committee members who also found fault with signage, appearance and waiting areas.

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As well as adding an extra 20,500sq ft of floor space over two levels the extension will sweep away the existing curves of the Lighthouse cafe, replacing it with the straight edges and polycarbonate panels that announced the previous addition.

John Burmester, director of Centenary Asset Management, the company that looks after the centre, said it was still early days for the scheme which had not yet been fully costed.

If planning was granted the centre would hope to open its extension some time next year at either Easter or September to fit in with retailers’ preferences.

As well as adding larger units of around 5000sq ft each to attract national names the improvements would benefit existing smaller shops by creating a better pedestrian flow, he added.

The installation of a lift aims to end criticism over access to the mall for wheelchair users and people with buggies and prams.

Discussions are taking place with potential new retail and catering occupiers.

Mark Hewett, director of Miller, said: “This is an exciting new project following the completion of the principal extension in 2008 and marks Miller’s commitment to continuing the programme of improvements to the centre for the benefit of both traders and customers and to provide the type of units required by today’s retailers.

“Not only will it present a brand new fa�ade to Regent Road but the stores will considerably enhance the first floor mall and the connection with Regent Road and the Temple Road bus drop-off area, thereby increasing footfall for the existing traders.”

Market Gates is one of the Eastern region’s oldest malls which ushered in a new era of retail opportunity when it was built in 1975.