Westfield launches £1bn Whitgift scheme consultation

By Paul Norman - Thursday, July 05, 2012 11:41

Westfield has publicly unveiled its plans for a £1bn shopping centre redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre in Croydon.

Today marks the start of a four day consultation held in the town at which the developer and the freehold owner of the Whitgift Centre will outline proposals it intends to lodge with Croydon council next month.

Westfield’s Allies & Morrison-designed proposals for the Whitgift Centre include: 1.5m sq ft of retail space including a major department store and a range of shops designed to attract a variety of occupiers including small to medium retailers; family leisure with a state of the art multi-screen cinema, bowling and restaurants; new public realm improvements and solutions to the long-term road access issues for Wellesley Road; creating over 5,000 permanent local job opportunities including full and part time work; modern car parking spaces to improve the safety of shoppers in Croydon; between 400 and 600 homes.

It will also include three towers with one rising up to 32 storeys in height and including up to 600 homes and potentially a hotel.

Westfield is also eyeing a redesigned Whitgift Centre that joins up the new transport improvements and the rest of the existing town centre to “encourage further connected development”.

Many of the existing buildings will be reconstructed in a phased approach that will provide continuity of trade during redevelopment.

Westfield said it will showcase the development as a central focus of the area’s long-term regeneration plans and demonstrate how it will fit with the aspirations of the London Borough of Croydon in its emerging planning policies and masterplans.

The event follows the presentation of Westfield’s vision to Croydon’s Strategic Planning Committee in May.

John Burton, Westfield’s director of development, said: “Since 2008 we have successfully, and swiftly, created two of Europe’s largest shopping centres that have regenerated Stratford and Shepherd’s Bush and delivered thousands of local jobs during one of the most difficult economic environments in a generation.

“Together with The Whitgift Foundation, our plans are to bring a world class centre to Croydon, which deserves a retail solution that meets the needs of its local residents and businesses without compromising on quality or style. Our plans will bring an outstanding shopping, leisure and residential development to Croydon and will kick start the wider regeneration of the town.

“Westfield has the experience from many past developments around the world to redevelop the Whitgift Centre in phases allowing the retailers to continue trading during development. We look forward to sharing our plans with the local retailers and businesses to show how they will benefit from this major regeneration scheme and how these plans will unify the existing town centre and support future investment.”

The community consultation event will take place in North End, adjacent to the Whitgift Centre, Croydon where attendees will be asked to give their feedback on the development plans to Westfield representatives.

Westfield’s Burton told CoStar News last month that, as it did at Stratford City, it would press on with its plans despite unresolved complex issues around the ownership, because it is the “way we can prove we are serious” and "we are hopeful that a mutual solution will be found".

In November of last year, Westfield agreed an exclusivity deal with the Whitgift Foundation, which owns the freehold and 25% of the leasehold of the mall, to redevelop the shopping centre.

In April of this year however Royal London Asset Management and IBRC Assurance Company (formerly Anglo Irish Bank), the owners of the remaining 75% of the leasehold, selected Hammerson as their preferred partner to develop the Whitgift Centre, which neighbours Hammerson’s Centrale.

The partners have said that the merger of Hammerson’s interests in the two centres will “create a unique opportunity to bring about a game-changing event for the benefit the whole town”.

Last month Hammerson gained consent from Croydon councillors for its £50m redevelopment of the Centrale centre with plans that include a cinema scheme opposed by the Whitgift Foundation as a direct competitor to the Whitgift centre.

Burton said: “As part of our commitment to Croydon, and the community, we are bringing forward our development plans and we are working as quickly as possible to make them a reality. “

“There are a number of exciting residential and office developments in the pipeline for Croydon who are eagerly awaiting Westfield’s presence and investment to give them the added certainty that Croydon can now look forward to a much brighter future and secure its place as the business hub of south London.”

Westfield plans to submit its development application for the development in July 2012.

pnorman@costar.co.uk

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