The Lakeside Shopping Centre is a large out-of-town shopping centre located in West Thurrock, in the borough of Thurrock, Essex just beyond the eastern boundary of Greater London. It was opened on 25 October 1990 by Princess Alexandra, Marcus Bradford and Angus Ogilvy. The shopping centre, in addition to the retail parks, forms one of the largest shopping areas in a single location within Europe, with almost 2,600,000 square feet (240,000 m 2) of retail space on a site of 200 acres (0.81 km 2). The community of Chafford Hundred has grown to the east of the centre since its opening. Its main rival is the Bluewater Shopping Centre in Greenhithe, Kent just across the River Thames.

Main shopping centre
The shopping centre is the seventh largest in Britain with 1,434,000 sq ft (133,200 m 2) available as retail floorspace - the MetroCentre in Gateshead, after its expansion in 2004, is the largest. There are over 250 shops, of which there are 4 anchor stores, 50 cafes and restaurants and a 26-acre (110,000 m 2) lake named Alexandra Lake with a PADI certified diving school complex. Lakeside has on average 500,000 visitors per week. It is currently open on weekdays from 10 am to 10 pm, Saturday from 9 am to 9 pm and Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm. The centre's car parks have capacity for 13,000 cars.

Transport connections
The centre has a direct link to Chafford Hundred railway station and is connected to the M25 motorway which is London's outermost ring road, as well as to the A13 road which connects central and east London to Basildon and Southend-on-Sea. It is connected to the London Bus network by London Buses routes 370 and 372 with other operators such as Arriva, Ensignbus and First Essex also providing bus services to the centre. Route X80 operated by Ensignbus provides a link to Chafford Hundred Station and Bluewater across the Dartford Crossing. First London have recently introduced Route 265 which provides a vital link to Brentwood and Ensignbus will recently introduce another route to Brentwood called the X81 and will run non-stop between Lakeside and Brentwood and will go from Brentwood High Street to Shenfield and Hutton then continue in a circular motion to Brentwood terminating at Brentwood station. In 2007 London Transport announced that standard London bus fares apply to routes 370 and 372 for all stops up to and including Lakeside (standard fares had previously ended at the Greater London/Thurrock boundary, with an additional rate required to complete journeys to Lakeside). There is also an hourly Monday to Saturday service provided by Arriva Southend called service 5 'Basildon Direct' to Southend via Basildon, although it is much quicker to take the train from Lakeside to Southend, as the bus journey takes 2 hours. There is also a bus service to Lakeside Tesco and the retail park operated by Ensignbus route 44 , every half hour

New developments
To ensure the centre maintains its competition with the newer (and what is perceived by some as more 'upmarket') Bluewater shopping centre, which lies just over the Thames in Greenhithe, Lakeside has recently undergone major refurbishment at a cost of £30 million. This included new Italian porcelain flooring, new lighting, a new ceiling and new glass roofs which allow much more natural light into the shopping centre. There are now also new, faster lifts, and 4 more escalators along with automatic entrance doors. The refurbishment has also encouraged refitting of many shops so that they complement the new surroundings. In September 2005, Next opened an 18,600 sq ft (1,730 m 2). extension to their store. The Lakeside Pavilion, a market area adjoined to the main shopping centre via a covered bridge was closed in 2006, refurbished, and re-opened in June 2007 as 'The Boardwalk'. The Boardwalk provides an additional 59,000 sq ft (5,500 m 2). of retail space for 11 new restaurants along with more retail and leisure space, as well as a 10 metre boardwalk, offering external seating which overlooks Alexandra Lake. The Old Orleans bar and restaurant boat was also refurbished and re-opened on the same day, with new features including a rooftop bar. Vue cinema formed part of the old Lakeside Pavilion, with a 7 screen cinema. This closed on 11 January 2007 to be refurbished, and was re-opened on Friday 15 June 2007; the refurbishment resulted in 9 state of the art screens with stadium seating, including a premium "Gold Class" screen housing luxury reclinable armchair-style seating, and a special screen that would show major sporting, music and gaming events as well as key films. This 'Evolution Screen', with a combination of giant bean bag chairs and sofas, was the first of its kind in the UK. Apple opened its tenth UK store at Lakeside Shopping Centre. Marks & Spencer, one of the centre's 4 anchor stores, applied for planning permission in July 2008 to allow construction of a 23,970 sq ft (2,230 m 2) third storey extension to their store, in addition to an extensive refurbishment of the store layout and customer facilities. The application was approved at the end of October 2008 although no construction has taken place as of June 2010. Supergroup, owners of the Cult and Superdry brands will open its largest-ever store at the centre in July 2010, in the unit previously occupied by Woolworths. Ed's Easy Diner also opened their fifth restaurant in the centre's food court in July 2010. On May 27, 2010, it was announced that Taco Bell would be revived in the UK and its first new location would be at Lakeside. The restaurant opened 28 June 2010.

Retail parks
There are also two retail parks nearby called the Lakeside Retail Park and The Junction. Lakeside Retail Park has a number of stores such as:

The Junction has shops such as:

In August 2009, it was announced that US retail giant Best Buy would be opening one of its first UK stores at The Junction. The company had signed a 10 year lease for a 50,000-square-foot (4,600 m 2) megastore located on the site of the former Courts store. The new store opened 30 April 2010. In a move to counter the opening of Best Buy, Currys signed up to take on 100,000-square-foot (9,300 m 2) of retail space in Lakeside Retail Park, on the site vacated by Danish Store ILVA. Currys opened the new megastore in spring 2010.

Docusoap
In 1998, Lakesiders was a BBC docusoap narrated by Pauline Quirke following the activities of management, shopkeepers and staff of the shopping centre. The fractious working relationship between Essex FM's breakfast show DJ Martin Day and his boss Paul Chantler also featured. The theme music was by Simon May. A new series, Return to Lakesiders, was filmed by the BBC in 2007 and was broadcast on BBC Two 18”“22 August 2008.

Route Number Route Operator Operation 5 Lakeside Shopping Centre to Southend Travel Centre via Basildon Arriva Southern Counties Mon-Sat 22 Aveley Usk Road to Grays Bus Station via West Thurrock Ensignbus Daily 33 Lakeside Shopping Centre to Grays Bus Station via Chafford Hundred Ensignbus Mon-Sat 44 Lakeside Shopping Centre to Grays Bus Station via Purfleet Ensignbus, Arriva Southern Counties Daily 66 Lakeside Shopping Centre to Chadwell St Mary Longhouse Road via Tilbury Ensignbus Mon-Sat 73 73C Lakeside Shopping Centre to Tilbury Civic Square via Grays Ensignbus Daily 83 Lakeside Shopping Centre to Chadwell St Mary Longhouse Road via Grays Ensignbus Daily 100 Lakeside Shopping Centre to Basildon Bus Station (daily) / Chelmsford Bus Station (Mon-Sat only) via Grays First Essex Daily 150 Lakeside Shopping Centre to Basildon Bus Station via Grays Arriva Southern Counties Sundays 200 Lakeside Shopping Centre to Basildon Bus Station via Orsett First Essex Mon-Sat 265 Lakeside Shopping Centre to Brentwood Sainsburys via Bulphan First London Mon-Fri 370 ( TfL) Lakeside Shopping Centre to Romford Station via Upminster Arriva Southern Counties Daily 372 ( TfL) Lakeside Shopping Centre to Hornchurch Town Centre via Rainham Thameside Daily 575 Lakeside Shopping Centre to Epping High Street via Romford Blue Triangle Mon-Fri 711 Romford Station to Hempstead Post Office via Bluewater Arriva Southern Counties 1st Saturday of every month X80 Chafford Hundred Station to Bluewater Shopping Centre via Lakeside Ensignbus Mon-Sat X81 Brentwood High Street to Lakeside Shopping Centre via Hutton Ensignbus Mon-Fri
  • Argos
  • Blacks
  • Currys
  • Going Places
  • Habitat
  • Harveys
  • HomeSense
  • IKEA
  • JJB Sports
  • KFC
  • Maplin Electronics
  • Matalan
  • McDonald's
  • Mothercare
  • Next home
  • Next Clearance
  • PC World
  • Pizza Hut
  • SCS
  • The Range
  • Tesco
  • Toys "R" Us
  • American Golf Discount
  • Asda Living (a non-food Asda store)
  • Best Buy
  • Comet
  • Decathlon Sports
  • Halfords
  • Costco
  • Natuzzi
  • Odeon cinema
  • TK Maxx
  • M&S Outlet
  • Caffe Ritazza (located inside Asda Living)

Building Activity

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