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Store extension gathering pace

PUBLISHED: 14:21 03 July 2008 | UPDATED: 11:20 03 July 2010

IN A few months' time, the dark and derelict shop unit pictured below right will be transformed into a buzzing retail hub - filled with the latest fashions from top brands and hundreds of shoppers.

IN A few months' time, the dark and derelict shop unit pictured below right will be transformed into a buzzing retail hub - filled with the latest fashions from top brands and hundreds of shoppers.

Shopfitters for retail giant Debenhams are expected to move into the store's new unit at Market Gates Shopping Centre in the next couple of weeks.

It marks yet another milestone for the multi-million-pound extension which will be fully open by Christmas

2008 - with a few retailers such as Debenhams and Starbucks opening around October.

Centre manager Nick Spencer agreed that building work had “gathered pace” and that shoppers would notice a big difference to the centre in the next couple of months.

A temporary walkway - linking the car park with the shopping mall - has been put in place while workmen continue demolition work at the old Iceland store and prepare the new shop units.

Mr Spencer said: “There are people working on both sides of the new walkway, continuing with demolition work and getting units ready along with the new mall.” He added: “In about two or three weeks' time work will also start on the ceiling feature at the bus station but this work can only be done overnight when bus services are not running. Cladding will be going up on the back of the building shortly. It's amazing how it is taking shape and all work is on schedule.”

Mr Spencer said the £16m extension programme at the 1970s-built complex was one the biggest retail investments the town centre has ever seen and

he expects it to attract more big

names to the town.

The four-storey 70,000sq ft extension has created three large stores for Debenhams and existing tenants New Look and Iceland and eight smaller units. In April Iceland moved into its brand new premises on South Market Road, next to the bus station, and New Look and Starbucks will move into

their new units in October.

The new mall will be neutral in colour - with whites and beiges dominating - while the old part of the shopping centre will be revamped with changes to wall and floor colourings.

The centre will also have new signs advertising various brands on the outside.

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