A ghostly shopping centre in Wales faces being ‘recycled’ into a business centre after all the big stores moved out leaving it with no shops open.
The empty shell of the Festival Park shopping centre has become known as ‘zombie-land’ to Gwent locals who have watched over 40 companies pack up and leave in recent years.
The big name brands to have abandoned in a retail slump include Nike, Costa, M&S and Gap before SportsDirect left leaving the centre empty.
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The shopping centre has been open since 1997 and was opened on the site of the Ebbw Vale Garden Festival, which took place in 1992.
Many locals remember fondly the glory days when you could actually buy things there.
Shopper Megan Woods, 59, said: “It was amazing then — long queues to get in and a real buzz.
“It has its own fairground and even a talking moving clock.. But now it is more like a zombie-land with no-one here.
“Something has gone very wrong somewhere that all that investment of taxpayers money was wasted. It was getting bad before the pandemic but now it is just ridiculous.”
Shop owner Kim Maguire used to own a store on the site.
She said: “I still regularly hear from customers about how much they miss Festival Park, and how shocked they all are at what has happened to it over the last few years.
“It was a sad day when it closed for me as a business and for the community as a whole.
“Everyone who worked there misses it as well, though we are now in a larger shop further towards the centre of town.”
The units have now been bought by Mercia Real Estate who say they want to convert the shopping park into a 'mixed-use business centre.'
Their planning application states: “MRE’s vision for the mall is to recycle and repurpose the existing land and buildings to create a mixed-use business centre.
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“The previously developed site is now completely vacant, but with limited remodelling to the buildings and the hard areas around them it can provide space for a range of employment-generating uses.
“MRE also want attract users that may include a mixture of activities — like trade counters, tool hire companies and builder's merchants.”
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