UK’s ‘ghost town’ shopping centre left to rot more than 25 years after flagship opening
An abandoned shopping centre has been left to rot for 20 years and has been dubbed a 'ghost town'
Five Sisters Freeport Shopping Village once had more than 40 stores and was a premier outlet for designer clothes. The 50,000 square feet attraction attracted more than a million visitors in its first year. There was also a promise it would be extended to feature more leisure facilities, such as a snow centre and a golf course.
Between Edinburgh and Glasgow, just off the M8 motorway, it could be easily reached by most people. It was open seven days a week from 10am and its brands included Versace, DKNY, Calvin Klein, Rockport and Levis.Valentine's Day jewellery under £100 including half price Michael Kors bracelet
EdinburghLive reports it also had a Leisureland facility, with soft play, go karts, entertainment centre and many more activities for children. There were two cafes and another two restaurants on-site to ensure all of its customers' needs were met. After opening, bosses at Freeport Leisure wanted to extend the premises and planning application was submitted to West Lothian Council for an £18million upgrade. It could have featured ski slopes, toboggan runs, snowboarding and a children’s winter wonderland. But that idea, and a new golf course and putting range, never materialised as the fortunes of the Freeport began to shift rapidly.
The new Livingston Designer Outlet had a big impact on the store when it opened in 2000. Customers began to turn away in their droves, and tenants also moved their stores to the new outlet in Livingston. The site has been derelict ever since, with the BBC using it for filming a zombie children’s show in 2015. Sean Collidge, chairman of Freeport, admitted at the time that the Livingston outlet opening nearby was their downfall. He said: “This scheme was 100 per cent let when it opened in 1996 and had four tremendous years. Then retail in Scotland became overpopulated in the central belt.” West Lothian Council has rejected plans to create housing in the area but is keen to see it redeveloped.
A spokesperson said: “The re-development, or re-use, of Westwood (Freeport), near West Calder, previously operating as a factory outlet centre, is supported by the council. Leisure and tourist uses, specialised employment, starter units (Class 4), or institutional uses appropriate to a rural location will be supported.
"Some element of new or extended building outwith the development envelope on site and/or housing (very low density and a maximum of 30 houses meriting a rural location, all confined to the development envelope) will be considered, where this is shown to be necessary in terms of the financial viability of an appropriate scheme.”