Located in Dunston, Gateshead, on a former industrial site near to the River Tyne, intu Metrocentre opened in stages, with the first phase opening on 28 April 1986 and the official opening on 14 October 1986. It has more than 340 shops occupying 2,000,000 square feet (190,000 m2) of retail floor space, making it the largest shopping and leisure centre in the UK. Additional retail space is available in the adjoining Metro Retail Park and MetrOasis.
The centre was rebranded as intu Metrocentre in 2013 following the renaming of its parent Capital Shopping Centres Group as Intu Properties.intu Metrocentre’s construction was financed by the Church Commissioners of England, and was masterminded by Sir John Hall’s company, Cameron Hall Developments, the ground upon which it is built was purchased for a mere £100,000 in the early 1970s. Access to the development was facilitated by an urban development grant from the Department of the Environment and the Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead. In October 1995, the centre was sold to Capital Shopping Centres (now Intu Properties) for £364m, although the Church Commissioners retained a 10% stake
Reflecting its Church of England origins, intu Metrocentre is one of the few European shopping centres to have its own resident full-time chaplain. Services are held on special occasions such as Mothering Sunday, Remembrance Sunday and Christmas.
intu Metrocentre has five main malls; Red, Green, Blue, Yellow and Platinum. It also has themed shopping areas featuring independent retailers; The Village, formerly known as the Antiques Village, The Forum, formerly known as the Roman Forum, and Qube, formerly known as the Mediterranean Village, and houses over 50 restaurants and cafes.
The first phase of intu Metrocentre was opened on 28 April 1986 – the red mall. At the time it featured a large Carrefour supermarket, which later became Gateway and subsequently Asda. intu Metrocentre also featured the first out of town Marks & Spencer.
In 1997, Asda moved from intu Metrocentre to a larger stand-alone store nearby, facilitating the redevelopment of the Red Mall. In 2014, the Metrocentre name was amended to include the owner’s Intu name as a prefix, becoming Intu Metrocentre.
Asda’s move out of the main centre was planned so that its former store could be demolished to make way for an extension and refurbishment of the Red Mall. The new Red Mall, anchored by a new Debenhams department store, opened on 6 October 2004. The refurbishment programme also included a new Public Transport Interchange at the end of the Blue Mall. It replaced the old bus station and was intended to provide improved bus links to many parts of North East England and accommodate coach services from elsewhere in the UK.
The new interchange features electronic display boards and a new waiting room at the MetroCentre railway station. intu Metrocentre is not directly connected to the Tyne and Wear Metro System though regular bus shuttle services provide connections to Monument, Central Station and Gateshead Metro stations. The rail link also provides direct access to neighbouring Newcastle upon Tyne city centre.
On 30 November 2006, centre owner Capital Shopping Centres announced plans to redevelop the centre’s Yellow Mall. The Metroland indoor funfair closed in April 2008 and the area has been reconstructed to become the Metrocentre Qube. With the first phase completed, the Qube contains branches of YO! Sushi and PizzaExpress.
A new Odeon cinema (relocated from the Blue Mall) opened in December 2009 and includes 12 digital screens including multiple 3D screens and an IMAX Digital, the first in the north east of England. The Namco Funscape is a family entertainment centre (including a new ten-pin bowling alley) dodgems and soft play. The Qube exterior is made from clad zinc and glass to distinguish it as the entertainment part of the centre Platinum Mall
The former central area of the centre has been refurbished and renamed the Platinum Mall. This area focuses on higher end stores and furnishings including improved lighting and decor. The development hopes to copy designer outlets much similar to Westfield Shopping Centre’s “The Village” mall. In August 2012 the first new retailer, 360 Champagne & Cocktails, opened its doors closely followed by Mamas & Papas and H&M Kids. Tessuti designer menswear opened in December 2012 followed by designer footwear retailer Daniel shoes.
by Simon schofield