Capital to get Third Westfield Mall

Posted on 28 November, 2013 by Cliff Goodwin

It’s hoped a multi-million pound shopping development for Croydon will boost the area’s recovery after the devastating 2011 riots.

The £1bn Westfield mall — overwhelmingly approved by council planners and backed by London’s Mayor Boris Johnson — will be the chain’s third retail complex in the capital after Stratford and Shepherd’s Bush.

Westfield’s latest project is a fifty-fifty venture with Hammerson and will involve the creation of 1.4m sq ft of shopping space with a projected footfall of 40 million visitors a year. Together with integrated office and leisure facilities the development also includes the construction of 600 new homes.

“In terms of scale, what we’re delivering here is in total larger than what we currently have at either Stratford or west London,” explained Westfield’s director of development, John Burton in the Evening Standard. “The intention is to be a pace setter, here and more widely in Europe. This will be the absolute top of the retail tree.”

And echoing Boris Johnson’s promise to revive the town after the civil unrest, Burton added: “The Mayor has made no secret of the fact that this is one of his priorities in terms of seeing it return to its place in the overall hierarchy of London. Croydon will rise to a place in London that it has previously held … at the very top.”

Expected to provide at least 5,000 temporary and long-term jobs, the first phase of the project will involve remodelling and redevelopment of Croydon’s existing Whitegift shopping centre. When combined with Hammerson’s stake in the Centrale shopping centre directly opposite, the retail site will be larger than Westfield’s current east and west London holdings.

“Overall Stratford is just under two-million and Shepherds Bush 1.7m sq ft. When you combine the Centrale and Whitgift we’re nudging two million, so the new mall will actually be slightly larger than the other two,” he said.

Peter Cole is chief investment officer with Hammerson. “Croydon was originally the third city for London,” he said. “We intend making this one of the top ten retail destinations in the UK and one of the best shopping and leisure attractions in London.”

Hammerson was originally established in 1942 to develop residential property for the Blitz homeless. It diversified into commercial property five years later.

Two more formal approvals are needed before work can start early in 2015. Mr Johnson must officially grant planning consent, as must the Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles. It’s highly unlikely there will be any political objections to the size or implications of the Croydon development.

The Greater London Assembly member for the town, Steve O’Connell, has dubbed the plan “historic” while local MP, Gavin Barwell, said the proposed investment was a “once in a generation” opportunity to transform Croydon’s fortunes while making it “one of the top retail destinations in the country”. It will also go some way to solving unemployment, a housing shortage and turning around the town’s decline, he added.

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