AFTER splashing £20million on Grays Shopping Centre, the new owners have now introduced three hours worth of free parking.

The firm aims to quickly reaffirm the centre’s place at the very heart of the Grays community with new many initiatives planned to improve the overall customer experience.

NewRiver acquired the shopping centre for £20.2 million in June, and will be undertaking “significant and positive” changes to the mall over the coming years.

The first significant change was the introduction of new car park management company, Smart Parking, providing improved accessibility and affordability through free parking and better systems, getting in and out of the block.

Smart Parking has recently come under fire in Basildon with numerous complaints about its management of the Westgate Car Park.

However, Hugh Sancroft-Baker, Associate Director at NewRiver, is confident about the firm - and excited about the future of the centre.

He said: “Our strategy for the centre is aligned with the ambitious town centre redevelopment plans put forward by the local authority.

“We look forward to working closely with them to deliver the right mix of residential, retail and leisure for the local community.

“We have begun this journey by introducing some very positive strategic changes, in line with our Customer Experience Strategy, and appointing experienced managing agents, Lambert Smith Hampton, who will be running the centre day-to-day.

“Smart Parking, one of the UK’s leading car park management companies, will be taking over management of the car park and we are delighted to able to offer not only an improved service but our shoppers will now benefit from free parking for the first three hours where previously they had to pay.”

The new car park system has now gone live.

NewRiver has promised to unveil further plans to improve and invest in the shopping centre for the local community in the coming months.

Bosses are confident shoppers will see huge improvements in the lead up to the busy festive period.

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