Shops centre may get £2m

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HARTLEPOOL’S Middleton Grange shopping centre is in line for a £2m boost.

Premier Property Group (PPG), which owns Middleton Grange, in Hartlepool, is investing the huge sum for improvements.

Bosses say they are aiming to enhance the centre and they are examining a series of initiatives, including refurbishment and capital works.

It comes as centre bosses welcome department store Bhs signing a 15-year lease to move into the former Woolworths store, which closed in December 2008.

And bosses say they are hoping to announce further new retailers coming into the centre in the next few months after the economic recession led to a number of vacancies.

PPG director Lynne Higgins said: “This is a great letting for the centre and Hartlepool and one that demonstrates our strong commitment to drive forward Middleton Grange.

“We are determined to continue the reinvigoration of the centre as a destination of choice for shoppers and retailers.”

Bhs will take over 35,000 sq ft of the 580,000 sq ft of lettable space in the centre.

A Bhs spokesman said: “We are delighted to be opening a flagship Bhs store in Hartlepool, which we believe will be a key town for the brand.

“The all-new store showcases the brand’s new corporate branding and store design, which follow successful trials last year.

“The store, which will trade over two floors with a total of 22,000 sq ft of selling space, will feature a revitalised fashion offer with separate departments for women, men and children.

“Within women’s wear dedicated areas will showcase Arcadia brands Wallis and Dorothy Perkins.

“The upper floor introduces the extensive home-furnishing department and an all-new Bhs Cafe, whose fresh new concept mixes classic designer furniture with bespoke graphics.”

PPG has already begun work to open up and refurbish the façade of the unit and Bhs is expected to begin trading this autumn following an extensive fit-out, increasing the occupancy rate of the centre from 80 per cent to 86 per cent.

Ms Higgins added: “The economic recession of the past couple of years has led to a number of vacancies being created and very difficult trading conditions generally for retailers.

“However, we are expecting over the next few weeks and months that further lettings to tenants new to the centre will be announced.”

PPG, which is part of Murray International Holdings, bought the centre in January 2005, along with the Four Seasons in Mansfield.

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