Yate Shopping Centre
Image by brizzle born and bred
image: Yate Shopping Centre date unknown?
In the 1960s Yate was designated as a development area and the building boom began. The creation of a new town included a large retail shopping area, sports and leisure development together with public buildings.
Construction of a pedestrianised shopping centre of around a hundred shops began in the early-to-mid-1960s.
The shopping centre was opened by Patricia Phoenix, (who played Elsie Tanner in ITV’s Coronation Street), Mary Rand (Athlete) and Ted Ray (Comedian). As with the most British net towns, modern art was included in the design: in the case of Yate, this was in the form of the Four Seasons sculpture, and a graceful and dramatic spire-shaped sculpture, which could be seen for miles, mounted high above the centre on the roof of one of the shops.
This sculpture existed until the early 1990s when it was removed during the revamping of the centre, which included the erection of glass roofs over the walkways. An extension to East Walk was constructed at the start of the 1980s, and this included the construction of a new Tesco store, with the old store in South Walk turned into a Tesco Home and Wear store. An extension to West Walk was constructed in the early 1990s.
Yate shopping centre housed a single screen cinema until the early 1980s. It was closed and replaced with Spirals nightclub. The club closed in the 2000s and was replaced with Rileys pool club and then by Waves, another club. Waves closed in 2012. A youth centre called Armadillo opened in 2011.
Shops in the centre include Tesco, Boots (chemist), Halfords Metro, Iceland (supermarket), Argos, Superdrug and The Entertainer. Eating places in the Centre include McDonald’s, Boswells and Wetherspoons.
During the 1980s and into the mid-1990s, the shopping centre hosted Yate’s annual festival. On opening day a celebrity launched the festival by releasing balloons and stayed to sign autographs. Celebrities have included Carole Lee Scott, in character as Grotbags (from Rod Hull and Emu’s enemy), Timmy Mallett, Keith Chegwin, Ross Kemp (EastEnders’ Grant Mitchell), Ken Morley (Coronation Street’s Reg Holdsworth), David Neilson (Coronation Street’s Roy Cropper), Beverley Callard (Coronation Street’s Liz McDonald), Bob Carolgees and Spit the Dog, and the Milky Bar Kid. The festival also brought along a number of news presenters from HTV West including Bruce Hockin, Richard Wyatt and Peter Rowell.
On 19 November 2009, a large crowd packed into the shopping centre to see Peter Andre switch on the town’s Christmas lights and sing his single "Unconditional".
On 15 November 2012, Steps (group) plus a finalist (still to be announced) from the 2012 series of The X Factor (UK) are due to switch on the town centre’s Christmas lights.
In December 2006, the owners of the shopping centre (Dominion Corporate Trustees) announced plans to enlarge and modernise it. In Phase 1 one of the main changes has been the replacement of the existing small Tesco with a large Tesco Extra. To replace lost shopping centre parking following the enlargement, the store is on stilts, with parking beneath. It opened on 24 October 2011.
Located near the shopping centre are Lidl, Morrisons and B&Q. There are two Tesco Express stores in Yate: one on Station Road and one in Brinsham Park. The B&Q was built in the mid-to-late 1980s, along with two small housing estates, on the site of the Newmans electric motor factory which had been demolished in the mid-1980s.
The shopping centre also has a Jobcentre Plus, Citizens Advice Bureau, library, leisure centre, over-50s café, and health centre.
In 2008, construction of a new health centre began on the site of the old one, costing around £12 million. The new West Gate Health Centre (formerly the West Walk Health Centre) was officially opened on 8 March 2010.
In August 2009, plans were agreed for Tesco to pull down their store and replace it with a more modern store three times the size, known as a Tesco Extra. The plans include four more shop units, relocation of the bus station, and a revamped entrance to East Walk. The revamp of the town’s bus station was officially opened in January 2010. A temporary Tesco store was opened on 28 February 2011 while the new Tesco Extra was under construction. The old Tesco closed its doors on 27 February 2011 and the Tesco Extra store opened on 24 October 2011.
It was revealed in September 2011 that Marks and Spencer have asked for planning permission for a new store in two of the four new units, on which building work will commence in October 2012. The other two units will be occupied by Costa Coffee and Sports Direct. This second phase of the centre’s expansion plans is being built next to Superdrug, in East Walk (opposite the Tesco Extra store). The public toilets next to the Superdrug store will be demolished and re-built on West Walk.
JD Wetherspoons public house and restaurant opened in the summer of 2012, on the corner of South Walk/South Parade, occupying several units, including the former Motorworld Store.
In September 2014, it was finally announced that Yate would get a new cinema. The cinema would be operated by Cineworld and would be part of a further expansion to the Yate Shopping Centre, which is also to include seven restaurants. The exstension will be built on and behind the current overflow carpark on Link Road, on the other side from the Tesco Extra store, and will be called ‘Yate Riverside’. Construction is expected to begin early 2015, with an expected completion date set for Spring 2016.