The last shops standing as D-Day approaches for Castlegate – what can shoppers expect next?
Once a bustling shopping mall, the malls in Stockton’s Castlegate center are becoming quieter as diggers prepare to move in.
A number of stores are still in operation and will continue to do so for some time until they reach agreements for their relocation.
And while another major retailer, Home Bargains, closed its doors this week, bosses say the trade is still “bumpy” for those left behind.
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Stockton Council have started demolition preparations, but it could still be months before the Castlegate closes for good.
So when will the last stores close – and what can customers expect next?
The first outward sign of the start of demolition work will be the permanent closure of the Tower Street car park, said center manager Matt Boxall.
“It closes on March 27.
“The first signs people will see will be car park entry and exit closures.”
The entrance to the Riverside Road car park will remain open.
“People will see signs going up first, in a few weeks, around the south end of the building, including the old Swallow Hotel,” he added.
“There is a lot of surveying and internal work to be done.
“Stores still open at the center include B&M, Boots, Kitson’s, Heron, Subway, Max Spielman and Timpsons.”
Home Bargains, which also has a large store on the outskirts of the town centre, has not announced any plans to replace its Castlegate branch.
“Fortunately, all Home Bargains staff have found positions in other stores and there have been no layoffs,” adds Matt.
B&M has yet to announce its plans.
But many stores have already moved to Wellington Square or are planning to do so.
Warren James, the jeweler, has pledged to move “very soon”.
The former H&M store has been split into five units and will accommodate businesses relocating from Castlegate.
“The H&M split, as we call it, will include Meynell’s, greengrocers Peacocks and Faking It,” Matt continues.
“Castlegate is vibrant – but Wellington Square is thriving, following recent openings by Specsavers, Hays Travel and Iceland in late 2021.”
“I would say probably the fall before the center closes for good,” he added.
A spokesman for Stockton Council said the closure of the Tower Street car park was to “facilitate pre-demolition work”.
“This involves isolating utilities in the area and carrying out the necessary surveys before demolition at the site can begin,” they said.
“The rooftop car park will still be open and accessible via the spiral ramp on Riverside Road.
“It will be operational with the opening hours of the mall.”
“The next phase will be the appointment of a demolition contractor who is currently out for tender,” they continued.
“We are awaiting this meeting so that we can confirm a full program of works with regard to the demolition, but they are expected to start on site in May.
The southern end of the site, near the Swallow Hotel, will be among the first areas to be demolished.
“The site will be fenced off and internal dismantling will take place before there is any visible sign of demolition,” the spokesperson added.
Castlegate tenant relocations were “going well”, they said, with the most recent successful moves including Specsavers.
“There are still cases where negotiations continue and the timelines for relocation depend on it.”
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