WORK to rebuild the Castlepoint car park has moved on to its third phase following completion of the latest stage of construction.

The area now completed stretches along the West Walkway from Sainsbury’s to Next with phase three now under way in front of Marks and Spencer.

This means the shopping park will have two separate car parks during phase three, the red car park at the Sainsbury’s end and the blue car park near Asda and B&Q. The two will not be linked but will have a total of four access points.

Although a large area of the car park is closed, there are still three additional car parks accessible from the ground floor offering an extra 500 spaces to ensure there are plenty of spaces available for visitors.

There remain at least 2,500 parking spaces for customers.

Serious structural problems were identified in the car park just two years after the centre opened in 2003.

Parts were cordoned off amid reports of falling concrete and the car park was closed completely in December 2005, leading to huge losses for traders over the Christmas period.

It reopened a month later with temporary measures in place including netting and reinforcement and remained the same for 13 years.

After many years of legal wrangling, the work finally started in June 2018 and will be completed in six phases. The cost has never been revealed.

The project is on schedule and is expected to be complete by early 2023.

Centre manager David Pickett said: “Since the reopening of non-essential retail on the June 15, we have seen a steady return of our customers to Castlepoint. I know I speak for all retailers, when I say we are delighted to be able to welcome back all our shoppers.

“With the Government guidelines allowing our food operators to offer a takeaway service, Marks & Spencer are now offering this from their Café on the first floor and Nando’s are also providing this service from their restaurant in the East Village. Three retailers are still to reopen to the public, but these will be open in the coming time.

“It really is fantastic to be returning to normal and to see our customers once again shopping in our stores.”