A HOST of big names in High Street retailing are lining up to occupy units in the £100m K Village redevelopment.

Kendal Riverside Ltd, the company behind the three-year project, confirmed 14 national companies had now signed up to open stores at the factory outlet while a further six were at the ‘final stages’ of exchanging contracts.

The announcement came as the full scale of K Village was becoming much clearer, with building activity intensifying to ensure the development would be ready for a new opening date, set for the end of June.

Kendal Riverside also revealed that the development would: *create 500 new jobs *include a heritage centre dedicated to the history of shoe-making in Kendal; *run a Kendal Klipper bus service to link it to the town centre; and *contribute £800,000 to local road improvements.

New names include Costa Coffee, stationery and art product specialists The Works, the outdoor clothing retailer Mountain Warehouse, the homeware and bedding company Bedeck, luggage supplier Bags etc and the specialist natural food and ingredients retailer Julian Graves.

The chocolate brand Cadbury, luxury shoe chain Staccato and cosmetic retailer All Wellan Good are also coming to K Village for the first time, while original names such as Clarks shoes, the National Trust Gift Shop, Double Two, Denby and Klass will be returning.

Redevelopment of K Village began in 2007 and was expected to be completed by last September. However, a combination of the recession and ‘unfriendly construction weather’ caused the deadline to slip twice - first to spring 2010 and finally June.

Kendal Riverside’s project director Philip Weir said: "There is no doubt that the journey towards completion has been long and not without many challenges.

“However, despite the difficulties . . . our determination to succeed and our commitment to Kendal has remained steadfast and we look forward to the centre opening in June.”

Mr Weir said the £100m cost had been completely funded by the private sector and was ‘a significant boost to the social and economic welfare of the region’.

“In spite of the current financial climate, we continue to have confidence in the K Village project and in Kendal. I hope that Kendal’s community can agree that the new K Village and all its attendant benefits will be a tremendous asset to the town and will make a large contribution to its future growth and prosperity”, added Mr Weir.

However, Paul Sharples, owner of Classic Bags in Kendal’s indoor market, believed the town centre would suffer.

He said: "We speak to other businesses around here and I listen to my customers and they'll tell you the same thing, our footfall is down and with the new K Village coming, I think it'll do us harm. But we can't do anything about it."

"It's (the K Village) a big out of town retail park with brand new shops, easy parking and no queueing so it can't be good for the town centre. They're going to be pretty tired walking to town after going through a big place like the K Village."

"They've got the advantage by having massive car parking facilities and we need to address how people are going to park here."

Work on vital road improvements to support the K Village complex will begin next week.

Work starts on Monday to install traffic signals, street lighting and resurface two roads to improve connections to the development.

The works are being undertaken under contract to Cumbria County Council – with Riverside meeting the £700,000 costs.

They will see the resurfacing of Lound Road from Aynam Road to the petrol station and resurfacing of a length ofParkside Road.

Traffic lights and a pedestrian crossing are to be installed at the junction of Lound Road and Parkside Road as well as street lights and traffic lights at K Village entrance.

Residents' views

I don’t think Kendal is as individual as it used to be. I hope K Village doesn’t detract from the town centre. Anna Ridding, 64.

It brought coach parties of people into town before so if handled in the correct way it could be a good thing. Lee Howard, 37.

I’m expecting it to be fantastic when it opens and I think it’ll bring people into Kendal town centre. Lyn Tomlinson, 58.

It might put pressure on some shops and it will take a bit of business away from the town centre Richard Grannell, 43.

I’m looking forward to it and everyone who comes to town will still come to the centre even with the K Village. Diane Murray, 40.