A council plans to demolish half its town centre high street and replace it with a £37m riverside park.
Castlegate Shopping Centre stretches along the main retail area in Stockton, next to the River Tees.
Stockton Borough Council wants to create an urban park three times the size of Trafalgar Square on the site of the 1970s building.
Cabinet member Nigel Cooke said it would be “the realisation of our long-held ambition to open up the town”.
“The proposals are a continuation of the changes we’ve been making to repurpose our town centres to become less reliant on retail,” he said.
Research last year found there were about 50,000 fewer shops on the country’s high streets than a decade ago.
In January 2020, before the pandemic, the Centre for Retail Research said the decline had left even larger retailers struggling.
Stockton’s Marks and Spencer closed in 2018 and Debenhams shut last year.