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Telford retail park and Shropshire shopping centres prepare to reopen

By Mark Andrews | Telford | Business | Published:

One of Telford's biggest retail parks has announced it will reopen this month as shops across the region prepare to get back to business.

Quiet: Telford Forge during the lockdown

Telford Forge Shopping Park, in Colliers Way, will officially reopen on June 15, although some shops are likely to remain closed.

Major retailers, including Next, TK Maxx and Outfit are expected to be among those welcoming customers, although food and drink retailers, and operators in the leisure industry will be restricted to providing takeaway or delivery services.

Andrew Berger-North of the park's owner Hammerson said staff were working hard to ensure the park could reopen safely.

"It has been a really challenging time for everyone, and we are hugely grateful to the key workers that have done so much over the past few months," he said.

"We can’t wait to re-open, and to welcome back our customers. We ask that people be patient with us though, as the way we shop is going to be different for a while, and visits might take longer than usual."

The company advised people to check the Telford Forge website to see which shops would be open before travelling to the site.

Only essential retailers Boots, Superdrug, B&M and Sainsbury's, have been allowed to open throughout the lockdown period, although homeware retailer Dunelm reopened following a relaxation of the rules last month.

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Telford Forge Shopping Park at Christmastime

The company said all customer-facing staff would wear protective clothing while indoors, and extra cleaning would take place.

The adjacent Telford Centre will also fully reopen on June 15. Centre manager Glyn Morrow said preparations for the reopening were well in hand.

"Shopping safely, providing social distancing guidance and ensuring our centre is Covid-secure is an essential part of the careful but deliberate steps that are being taken to rebuild our local economy and we are will be asking all our customers to play their part," he said.

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"Our success is dependent on our customers clearly following the guidance to ensure we get back to business as usual as quickly and safely as possible."

Kevin Lockwood, manager of the council-owned Pride Hill and Darwin shopping centres in Shrewsbury, said preparations had begun for the opening of the centre a week on Monday.

He said new signs and hand sanitisers were being installed, and said centre staff would work with tenants on managing queues and monitoring the number of visitors entering the centre. There would also be restrictions on the number of customers using the toilets at any one time.

Mr Lockwood said: "We’ve been in contact with all our tenants to inform them of the government guidelines which should be adhered to before they open and asked them how they are going to do this.

Darwin shopping centre during the lockdown

"We need to be satisfied that everyone is doing as much as possible to reduce the risk of passing on the virus."

Mr Lockwood said the preparations were going well, and more information would be available during the middle of next week.

Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet in Ellesmere Port, which has been completely shut since the lockdown began in March, is also planning to reopen on June 15.

"The safety and welfare of our customers, brand partners and employees remain paramount and our re-opening is subject to any further government regulations and guidelines," a spokesman for the centre said.

"We will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide updates accordingly."

Over the border in Mid Wales, shoppers will have to wait a little longer until direction on reopening is given from the devolved administration.

A spokesman for the the Eagles Meadow shopping centre in Wrexham said there were no plans as yet for the centre to fully reopen. The centre is still open for customers of Boots and the M&S foodhall.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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