Westfield ups ante in Croydon Whitgift development battle

By Paul Norman - Friday, May 18, 2012 12:14

Westfield is planning to lodge plans for a £1bn redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre in Croydon within the next two months, after receiving a positive response to its initial presentation from Croydon councillors last night.

The move comes as confusion remains over who will develop out the key London shopping centre site.

Westfield last night presented its Whitgift Centre pre-development plans which it said will “create a world-class shopping, dining, leisure and residential precinct for the people of Croydon”.

Westfield is the development partner for the Whitgift Foundation and maintained its commitment with the London Borough of Croydon to bring forward its plans to ensure that the development can occur at the earliest opportunity.

The Australian shopping centre giant is planning:

Investment of circa £1bn; 1.5m sq ft of retail, dining and leisure; a redesigned Whitgift Centre that joins up the new transport improvements and the rest of the existing town centre to “encourage further connected development”; a “scheme that makes Croydon one of the most desirable shopping, leisure and living destinations in London”; “attracting new retailers, dining offers and leisure experiences featuring aspirational brands which would normally be found only in London’s best shopping precincts”; between 400 and 600 homes; the opportunity to create 4000 construction and retail jobs and importantly careers for the people of Croydon.

John Burton, Westfield director of development, said: “Westfield is committed to Croydon and has the resources and track record to deliver this project quickly.”

“In the past 3.5 years, Westfield has developed two iconic London centres, Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City and is very confident that it can deliver another outstanding development for the Croydon community.

“Westfield is very encouraged by the positive Council feedback and shortly will consult with the community to ensure the best shopping centre is built for the people of Croydon.”

Last 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 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”.

Confirmation of just who will bring forward a redevelopment of the Whitgift appears a long way off at present with neither side showing signs of wishing to reach a compromise.

Hammerson last night gained consent from Croydon councillors for its £50m redevelopment of the Centrale centre.

Westfield said it is likely to submit a development application for the Whitgift Centre in the next two months.


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