Ortons: Supermarket back at centre

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A SUPERMARKET chain which abandoned a troubled shopping complex as "unmanageable" seven years ago has returned to give the revamped centre a big vote of confidence.

A SUPERMARKET chain which abandoned a troubled shopping complex as "unmanageable" seven years ago has returned to give the revamped centre a big vote of confidence.The finishing touches are being added to a new Co-op superstore at the Orton Gate Shopping Centre in Peterborough, before it opens for business at 8am on Tuesday.

Back in 2001, the Co-op closed its Rainbow supermarket at the same site after the centre became dilapidated and a focal point for anti-social behaviour.

But a 10 million revamp, which is finally set to be completed by Christmas after years of delay, has offered new hope for the complex, and the return of the Co-op marks a significant turnaround in its fortunes.

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The new Co-op store is a quarter of the size of the old Rainbow supermarket, but its opening has provided a welcome jobs boost to the area, with 75 workers employed there.

chief executive of Anglia Co-operative John Chillcott said: "We are delighted to be returning to Orton in a modern, purpose-built store, having exited some years past from a dilapidated and oversized unit, in what was then a very rundown and poorly-managed shopping centre.

"We left with regret, but return with a promise to provide the community with the local amenity that has a wide choice of fresh food, groceries, beers wines and spirits and great value."

The Co-op is the latest business to begin trading at the revamped Orton Gate centre, with a Natwest bank and a Lloyds Pharmacy opening in the last few weeks.

Building work is still ongoing elsewhere in the centre, but Orton Gate managing director Colin Molyneux said it would be fully open before Christmas, with a Wilkinson household store, a bookmaker's, a newsagent, a furniture store, a Scope charity shop and a caf.

About a third of the centre's 40 units are already let, and talks are taking place with retailers about several of the others.

Mr Molyneux said: "The Co-op left the centre in 2001 because its shop site was too big and the centre was so run down and rife with vandalism and bad behaviour that it became unmanageable.

"The transformation of the centre is now nearing its conclusion and the Co-op is coming back, which is a vote of confidence that we have resolved the issues and are taking things forward.

"It may not look like it at the moment, but we will be finished with everything but the new link road by Christmas.

"We have worked for years to reach this point, and we are finally getting close to when we can pull down all the hoardings, which will be fantastic."

Peterborough city councillor Graham Murphy, cabinet member for regeneration, said he hoped the revamped complex would herald a new era for the troubled district centre.

He said: "The opening of the Co-op is an exciting development for the enhanced Orton Gate centre and I hope it is the first of many."