Queues for Blackburn's £66m shopping centre

Ricky Whittle (centre) opens The Mall
Image caption Ricky Whittle cut the ribbon on the redevelopment on Monday

Hundreds of shoppers have visited Blackburn for the grand opening of its new look shopping centre, The Mall.

Strictly Come Dancing and Hollyoaks star Ricky Whittle cut the ribbon on the £66m extension, which has increased the size of the centre by a third.

Twenty new shops have been built during the 19-month project, including a two-storey store for main tenant, Primark.

More stores will be opened in The Mall over the coming months, although five units are yet to be filled.

Retailer WH Smith and cafe chain Costa Coffee also opened their doors on Monday.

New stores

The redevelopment of The Mall has seen overall retail space increase to more than 600,000 sq ft, creating 20 new shops, a continental style market and parking for 1,300 cars.

General manager Loraine Jones said the refurbishment had brought the centre into the 21st Century.

"It really is coming together now. There is still a little bit of tweaking to do, but [we're] very excited to see the opening today," she said.

"I think it's fresh, airy - it's a pleasure. We can compete with other shopping centres and it's a nice place - I hope people will come and visit us."

Although some of the units are yet to attract tenants, Mrs Jones said managers remained convinced the centre would be successful.

"There's five to fill between now and Christmas, which we've had lots of interest [in], and we're very excited about that," she added.

Fashion retailer Peacock's will open its store in late autumn, while Next, Deichmann and New Look intend to open in late summer.

The town's new continental market will follow in March 2011.

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