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Remaining businesses to relocate into Wellington Square from Castlegate as part of Council's town centre plans

30 September 2022
Business owners in Wellington Square from the former H&M unit

Business owners in Wellington Square from the former H&M unit

The final national and independent businesses are relocating into Wellington Square and the north end of Stockton High Street as the second phase of demolition of Castlegate Shopping Centre approaches in the coming weeks.

Independent businesses Faking It and Peacocks Greengrocers have opened their doors in Wellington Square in recent weeks, joining Harry Meynell butchers and Timpson and Max Speilmann in the former H&M store.

The former-empty store has been transformed and sub divided into six smaller, fit for purpose retail units.

In the coming months, national retailers Heron Foods and Barclays are also set to relocate into Wellington Square, along with independent business Stockton Shop Mobility Centre.

B&M are also set to take up the former Marks and Spencer unit on the High Street.

These are the final relocations from a total of 31 businesses who have moved from Castlegate Shopping Centre into vacant units across the town centre. Other successful relocations over the last two years include Iceland, technology retailers CEX, as well as Blue Corn Bakery, Junior Jungle, Ramsdens, Warren James and Poundland.

Subway, Hays, Savers, Card Factory and Specsavers now also call Wellington Square home.

The relocations are part of bold Council plans aiming to tackle the oversupply of retail floorspace in the town centre and make way for an urban park and riverside plaza, Stockton Waterfront.

The upcoming expansion of food-on-the-go retailer Greggs and Additional Lengths into larger units in the shopping centre also shows the increase in confidence from businesses taking up central town centre premises.

In 2019, Stockton Town Centre had seen a vacancy rate of 22 per cent, twice the national average. This has now decreased to 10.2 per cent, almost 4 per cent below the national average.

Footfall in Wellington Square also continues to grow by 20 per cent in comparison to 2019 and 52 per cent year on year.

Councillor Nigel Cooke, Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration at Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, said: "It's fantastic to see so many businesses, both national and independents, moving to Wellington Square and other town centre premises.

"At the point of our purchase of the centre in 2019, Wellington Square had 13 empty units. There is now a projected let of 96 per cent which is extremely promising and proof that we are doing the right thing for our town centres.

"Despite the huge changes that our town centres are undergoing, it's still important for our six towns to have a healthy retail offering but it must be one that fits current demand.

"By creating retail space that fits current demand as well as encouraging new uses in Stockton, we are ensuring that our town is fit for future generations."

Les Meynell, owner of Harry Meynell, said: "Our sales have been brilliant since opening, by far surpassing the figures we had in our head when we first moved over from Castlegate to Wellington Square. All our regulars have followed us and a quarter of our customers are brand new."

Michelle Leech, store manager at Ramsdens: "Since moving from Castlegate to Wellington Square our sales have tripled! We are seeing a completely different demographic and we are a lot busier in store. The scheme is very welcoming and open with plenty of fantastic opportunities."

The demolition of Castlegate Shopping Centre is underway with the complete removal of the multistorey carpark having taken place.

The second phase of the demolition will include the removal of the Swallow Hotel and part of the shopping centre.

Find out more about the Council is transforming Stockton on the Our Six Towns page of the Council's website.

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