Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe and H&M become latest to leave Royal Victoria Place

Another big name store is pulling out of Royal Victoria Place as questions remain unanswered about the future direction of the shopping centre.

H&M has confirmed it is closing its kidswear store on January 21.

Two years after Tunbridge Wells Borough Council [TWBC] approved £70million expansion plans for the centre, retail units have continued to close with almost one in four now empty. Among those is BHS.

The expansion plans would see an eight screen multiplex cinema, restaurants and bigger shops move in. Retailers have complained of being left in the dark and have not heard any more about the proposals.

In November the Times reported Royal Victoria Place (RVP) was on the verge of being sold by Hermes Real Estate for £100million to British Land, one of the biggest property developers in Europe.

Research published by trading group RTW Together in their September Business Intelligence Report found 76 open units and 24 vacant shops in RVP, including the sub-arcade Ely Court.

But the situation has changed in the intervening months.

This week Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe the last retailer in Ely Court, closed its doors, following Hawkins Bazaar and Livvy’s. This left trading group RTW Together as the only occupant of the site.

Some of the closures are related to possible expansion plans and others are because of uncertainty over those plans.

RVP management has not responded to a Times request for comment on the sale, the redevelopment or the number of empty shops.

A spokesman for H&M said the firm was hoping to offer men’s and women’s clothes but could not find a large enough unit.

“Tunbridge Wells remains an important destination for H&M in terms of our expansion plans and we have been searching for some time to find a larger unit in the town to stock a full range of collections.

“We are yet to find a suitable unit, but continue our search for the best possible location in the town.”

On the possible sale TWBC Leader David Jukes has said: “If the sale goes ahead it can only be a good thing for the town.

“The expansion at RVP would hopefully still happen although not necessarily as planned and might be even more imaginative.”

British Land said they did not wish to comment.

Rumours that GAP was also about to close its stores at RVP have been dismissed by the retailer as untrue.

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