TWELVE years ago it was unveiled as a new shopping experience.
But the £60m Whiteley Village, in Whiteley, is finally set to close down having never proved to be the commercial draw its owners had hoped.
The shops will shut on June 26, before a 20-week demolition programme begins in July.
It will be replaced by a more traditional town centre costing £100m, along with a community hub, homes and new shops.
Squeezed by Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth and West Quay in Southampton, shoppers failed to appear in large numbers to the outlet centre.
Winchester City Council ward councillor Vivian Achwal said: ‘I don’t think it was what a lot of people ever envisaged for Whiteley.
‘The residents have always wanted more local shops and we hope that’s what the new development is going to bring us.
‘We want it to give us the shops and restaurants that mean we won’t have to leave Whiteley.’
Neighbouring Fareham Borough Council had put a halt to proceedings by claiming the new plans – first revealed back in 2008 – would have a detrimental impact on its own town centre.
It lodged an appeal with the Government Office for the South East (GOSE) who refused to call it in, finally leaving the way clear for the redevelopment.
Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council, said: ‘I think it’s regrettable that GOSE didn’t call it in because it’s an enormous shopping centre.
‘The need for Whiteley has always been for local shops but they’ve always been aiming for a regular shopping centre. Even Winchester’s own retail studies don’t show the need for it.’
The consortium behind the plans, the Whiteley Co-ownership, confirmed the closure and demolition, but added that the neighbouring Tesco and its car park will remain open throughout.