OPENING dates for the biggest stores in Maldon’s new retail park have been revealed.

Construction on the long-awaited Blackwater Retail Park in Fullbridge is in its final stages, with one outlet already open.

Costa Coffee opened its doors to the public on Thursday, with Sports Direct, Home Bargains, Next and Aldi to follow in November.

Sports Direct and Home Bargains are set to open on Saturday November 17, Next will open on Tuesday November 20, and Aldi will follow on Thursday November 22.

The last beam of construction was laid on the site in March this year. There had been previous fears that the park wouldn’t be opened until early next year, but it is now set to meet its initial target.

Aquila Developments, who are overseeing the retail park, stated the opening dates could change by a few days dependent on whether the tenants will be able to fit their stores out in time.

There are still three empty unit spaces in the retail park, though those are expected to be filled in the coming months.

Planning permission for the park was first granted by Maldon District Council in 2016, with work officially commencing in October 2017 with a ground-breaking ceremony.

The retail park is reported to represent a £20 million investment to the Maldon area from Aquila, and will bring around 200 jobs to the town.

Additionally, a 60-bed Travelodge Hotel was granted planning permission by the district council in August, which is set to begin construction in November, eyeing a September 2019 opening date.

The hotel will also include a ground floor café, though the company that will take up the location has not been revealed, with the hotel expected to bring in ten full time roles, with the café bringing in eight full time jobs.

Aldi is set be the largest store at Blackwater Retail Park, standing at 18,546 square foot, closely followed by Next at 15,996 and Home Bargains at 14,513. Costa is the smallest at 1,800 square foot, while the empty units are 6,179, 6,000 and 2,200.