Inside Scottish ‘zombie town’ shopping centre abandoned 25 years after opening

There’s one truly deserted shopping centre in the UK this Boxing Day and it’s in West Lothian.

Pictures show the derelict Scottish shopping centre that’s been sitting empty and abandoned for 17 years.

Five Sisters Freeport Shopping Village opened 25 years ago in 1996 claiming to be Scotland’s new premier outlet for designer garb with over 40 stores.

But those ambitions fell short after it closed up shop after a mere eight years – and it’s been deserted ever since.

It looks so dire that the BBC used it for filming a zombie children’s show in 2015, Edinburgh Live reports.

The 50,000sq ft shopping centre attracted over a million visitors in its first year and promised to extend to include more leisure facilities, like a snow centre and a golf course.

The venue was open seven days a week from 10am and had top brands on offer including Versace, DKNY, Calvin Klein, Rockport and Levis.

They 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 their customers needs were met.

One year after opening the bosses at Freeport Leisure even wanted to extend the premises.

A planning application was sent off to West Lothian Council for an £18million upgrade onto the leisure centre.

The snow centre would 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.

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The decline was rapid and within just one year in 2001 most of the shops had shut and others were offering reduced clearance sales and preparing to leave.

By 2004, Freeport Leisure decided it was time to close the centre down and they shut up shop.

Chairman of Freeport, Sean Collidge, 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 have rejected plans to create housing in the area but say in their Local Plan that they are 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 out with 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.”

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