Westfield to develop Croydon's Whitgift Centre

By Paul Norman - Thursday, November 10, 2011 7:15

Westfield has entered exclusive talks with the Whitgift Foundation to bring forward long-delayed plans to redevelop Croydon’s Whitgift centre.

The company is also understood to be in talks to buy the 50% stake of the leasehold controlled by Anglo Irish bank, as well as adjoining land.

Anglo bought its stake with Irish developer Howard Holdings for £220m in 2005.

In a stock market announcement Westfield said Croydon is a “strategic location” with links to Gatwick airport, Surrey, Kent and Sussex.

It said the scheme could attract 3m customers in an area presently “under-served by high quality retail and leisure facilities”

Michael Gutman, Westfield’s Europe managing director, said: “There is the potential for a major retail scheme in this strategic market which has been identified in the past by the John Lewis Partnership as a possible key location and the GLA and the local authorities have very high aspirations to implement a major retail scheme and the regeneration of the town centre.”

The 640,000 sq ft Whitgift Centre is anchored by Marks & Spencer and Allders with River Island, Clas Ohlson, H&M, Topshop, J. Sainsbury, Mothercare and Waterstones. 

Anglo Irish Bank appointed Jones Lang LaSalle to find a development partner for the shopping centre in February. It also plans to sell part of its 50% stake.

The bank and the centre’s other owners Whitgift Foundation and the Royal London Asset Management, are understood to have held talks with a number of leading developers about the opportunity.

JLL has also been advising on alternative plans for the circa 280,000 sq ft of offices located above the centre that were last year vacated by the UK Border Agency. As well as an office refurbishment JLL is understood to have suggested a range of uses for the run-down office space including residential, a data centre and a hotel.

Vale Retail and Jones Lang LaSalle advise the Whitgift Foundation on the leasing for the retail at the centre. Savills and Stiles Harold Williams advised on the offices.

pnorman@costar.co.uk

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