A NEW £25m shopping and leisure complex is nearing completion as work continues to build a new town centre for Europe's biggest Army base.

Several shops at Princes Gate, in Catterick Garrison, have already opened their doors to customers with more due to open shortly.

Poundland and Sports Direct were the first businesses to open on the site, with the shops taking on more than 60 staff prior to launch.

Boots is expected to open on July 29 ahead of the site's scheduled grand opening event in September.

Fast food restaurant KFC, which is opening a drive-thru within the complex, is due to open on August 14.

A spokeswoman for developers Kier said: "The development is coming to an end. We’re approaching practical completion on the new units at the end of this month.

"Individual fit-outs will be taking place throughout August, ready for a grand opening event towards the end of September."

A KFC spokesperson said: “We are delighted to be opening a new drive-thru at the Princes Gate Retail Park and believe KFC will be a positive addition to the local community.

"The new store is on track to open on the 14th of August, creating approximately 50 career opportunities in the area, and we look forward to welcoming local residents into the restaurant.”

Other businesses due to open at Princes Gate include Next, Brantano, Cotswold, Subway, Ladbrokes, Iceland, Thomas the Baker and Costa.

There will also be Brewer's Fayre and Hungry Horse restaurants, as well as a 60-bedroom Premier Inn.

A spokesman for Empire, which will operate a seven-screen cinema on the site, said the facility's opening was dependant on the developers.

Tenants are still to be found for three units.

Princes Gate is being built adjacent to the existing Tesco supermarket and beside Catterick Leisure Centre and library.

Work has also started on a new £5m B&M being constructed on Gough Road, next to the Tesco petrol station.

The 25,000sq ft store is due to open before the end of the year.

Steve McManaman, project manager of York-based S Harrison Developments, said: “The addition of new budget retail store opposite the entrance to the popular leisure centre is a natural extension of the successful retail and leisure campus - the final piece of the jigsaw to give Catterick Garrison the town centre that it has so long deserved."

Community leaders in nearby Richmond have previously raised concerns about the impact of the Princes Gate development on their town.

But supporters say the scheme will give a major boost for the local economy, with hundreds of jobs created and public spending kept in the district rather than at shopping and leisure parks further afield.