Work has started on a £16 million redevelopment of Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre.
Bulldozers have moved in to begin a major transformation of part of the busy centre in Gillingham.
Bulldozers have started work
Changes in the pipeline include redevelopment of the southern mall, where BHS and the food hall are located, and the freestanding building formerly occupied by McDonald’s.
New two-storey shops will be created, along with new food and drink outlets.
The first phase of the work has started, which involves tearing down the freestanding building opposite the petrol station, which will be replaced with new restaurants.
Development manager Brad Critcher said: “We are in discussion with a number of household-name restaurants to fill the six restaurant units. I can’t reveal the names yet but they are ones everyone would have heard of.
“The idea is to create somewhere where visitors can stay for dinner after going shopping.”
Artist's impression of the restaurant-lined south mall entrance
The first phase of the project is expected to be completed in August next year.
Work will then start on the second phase – improving the existing mall and creating a new community hall to replace the existing first-floor venue above the food court.
A more welcoming entrance will be created, and the red car park will be altered to make room for more disabled and parent-and-child parking.
A sheltered bus and taxi pick-up point will be created at the front of the building and the plans also include the creation of a public open space to accommodate the existing farmers’ market with room for additional kiosks.
The centre, which has 52 shops, opened in 1978 and last week it celebrated its 35th birthday.