£84m Whiteley Shopping Centre set to open

READY An artists impression of the Whiteley Shopping Centre
READY An artists impression of the Whiteley Shopping Centre
University of Portsmouth group finance and business students, from left, back row Professor Diego Vazquez-Brust and head of the accounting and financial management subject group at the University of Portsmouth Andrew Wood. 'Front row, Louisa Burton, Faculty of Business and Law dean Professor Gioia Pescetto, Francesca Sharp, Amy Davidson

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TOPSHOP, Next and Marks and Spencer open their doors today at the new £84m Whiteley Shopping Centre.

Thousands are shoppers are expected to descend on the complex, off the M27 between Portsmouth and Southampton, when it is officially opened at 11am.

Other big high street brands such as JD Sports, Shuh, H&M and Paperchase all have prominent stores.

Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council, said: ‘It’s a fantastic looking centre and obviously we wish it well.

‘I did say to the developer of the previous centre, before they laid a brick, that they were barking up the wrong tree because nobody would want to go there.’

The previous centre was such a failure it was nick-named the ‘Whiteley elephant’.

Neil Carter, the manager of the centre, said: ‘The old centre was a completely different proposition to what we have now. It’s like a high street with big names, independent shops and catering units. We’re open late at night, there is free car parking and we’re close to the M27. There are a number of different things in place to make sure of success this time round.’

He added: ‘There is a big catchment population with a lot of money to spend in this area. We’re not here to compete (with Gunwharf or West Quay), we’re here to complement what’s here.’

The fun begins today at 10am with music and competitions. Celebrity Denise Van Outen will open the Mamas and Papas shop at 11.30am and there will be activities throughout the day.

The previous outlet centre was demolished in 2011 after failing to attract customers.