YORK’S new £90 million shopping centre welcomed bright sunshine and bustling crowds as the Vangarde shopping park opened to the public.
After a year under construction, the ribbon was cut on the new centre next to Monks Cross, with John Lewis, Next, and Marks & Spencer also opening their doors for the first time.
Between the three brands, 580 new jobs have been created in the city, with more to join the park when six restaurants open on site next month.
The opening of the £15 million John Lewis, which marks the brand’s arrival in the city and the creation of 300 jobs, saw a queue of more than 100 people.
First in the queue was primary school teacher Ruth Holmes, 47, from Old Earswick, who waited since 8am.
She said: “I’m looking forward to seeing the variety of things on offer here. It’s exciting for York to get a store of this prestige.”
Robert Garnish, York John Lewis manager, who along with his staff all wore Yorkshire white roses for the opening, said: “I’m hugely honoured and proud today. It has been a fantastic journey to be able to see the building grow out of the ground, to pull together a fantastic team of staff, see them develop to the point where we are all ready to welcome our first customers.”
The store was opened by representatives from the first three charities in the store’s Community Matters scheme, which are Independent Domestic Abuse Service (IDAS), Arc Light, and Accessible Arts and Media.
The sun brought out crowds of shoppers throughout the morning with the 1,340-space car park filling rapidly.
Deborah O’Donnell, centre manager at Vangarde Shopping Park, said: “The opening day has been absolutely fantastic. This has been anticipated for years and it’s finally here, and it has been amazing to see the number of people turning out.”
Melanie Dyson, store manager at Next, said: “The team have been working very hard for the past few weeks in preparation for this.”
Hilary Wilkinson, store manager at the new M&S, which boasts the brand’s largest delicatessen, added: “This morning has been amazing, I’m so proud of the team and what they have delivered today.”
Extra bus trips to new shopping centre
EXTRA Park&Ride journeys will be laid on as the Vangarde Shopping Park opens for business.
From Sunday, services on the No9 Monks Cross service will start from 6.30am on weekdays and there will be more evening journeys, running as late as 9pm both ways.
There will also be an extra Sunday morning service from the city centre to help staff get to the new stores. Details are available at itravel.info/buses.
York’s Dial&Ride service will also offer more journeys from Huntington, Strensall and Haxby to the shopping park, and seats can be booked in advance by phoning 01904 551441.
The council has advised residents and visitors to plan their journeys around the Monks Cross area carefully over the coming weeks as large increases in traffic are expected.