A BELEAGUERED Southampton shopping centre has been closed after the receiver struggled to find a buyer.

The Bargate Shopping Centre, once the gleaming answer to transforming a neglected part of the city, has now become one of its worst eyesores after boards went up yesterday.

As previously reported, traders left after February after being given four weeks to leave.

Receivers BNP Paribas Real Estate are trying to sell the city centre complex after the owners went into liquidation more than a year ago.

Now shop keepers fear the boarded up centre will deter people from that part of town as well as blocking an important pedestrian access point.

The 25-year-old complex has been locked since Monday.

One former trader said “It is an important access point. I think there were talks about the site, they were obviously hoping that they could get a buyer but that doesn’t seem to have come off.

“It’s unclear, nobody knows exactly what’s happening there.

“It’s a shame it’s a good location in the centre of town and they haven’t spent money on it so it’s just decayed.

“We were forced to find a new premises quite quickly. It was all a bit rushed. We didn’t have much time to do anything.

“It was ‘here’s your two weeks’ notice and see you later’.

“Our new place is much more expensive – it’s about four or five times more than it was in the Bargate. I suppose the prices were cheap there to encourage businesses to set up there.”

A BNP Paribas Real Estate spokesman said last night: “Unfortunately, we cannot really comment. I can say that the receivers are actively seeking a sale of the shopping centre.”

The Bargate Centre was sold to European property giant Parkridge Holdings for £17.25m in February 2008, just as the credit crunch started to bite.

The firm set up to run the centre – Parkridge (Bargate) Ltd – was liquidated in late 2011 after running up major losses.

Earlier in the year 11 retailers still operating in the centre.

Traders said they were left in the dark over the plans for the complex and were shocked at being suddenly turfed out.