The three-way partnership behind the Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration project say they are still searching for new investors despite a ministerial decision to delay the calling in of revised plans for the multi-billion pound north-west London scheme.
Brent Cross Shopping Centre owners Hammerson and Standard Life and Barnet Borough Council are looking for a new lead investor to help deliver the £4bn Cricklewood project and turn the area into a “thriving town centre”. The ongoing project is expected to span two decades and will include retail and other commercial space alongside 7,550 new homes.
It is believed the partnership has already been approached by several large corporate funds, one from overseas. The process of selecting a new backer will start in summer 2014, with site work getting underway by early 2015.
“This initial stage will provide valuable feedback as we continue to finalise our requirements and ensure we are attracting the strongest field of partners possible.” said council leader, Richard Cornelius. “With the London property market showing strong signs of recovery, this is the perfect time for the council to attract significant investment into Barnet.”
In January the authority approved revised plans for the Brent Cross Cricklewood redevelopment under the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act. The section 73 application made changes to the original plans, submitted by Hammerson and Standard Life, and approved by the council in 2010. The developers added a new network of streets and public spaces around Brent Cross shopping centre and a pedestrian and cycle bridge over the North Circular Road to the plans. They have also brought forward the time frame for the planned transport improvements.
The amended application was referred by Barnet Council to the communities secretary to allow the minister to decide whether he needed to call in the project for his own determination. But now Eric Pickles has issued an Article 25 holding notice, extending the time in which it has to be decided whether to call in the plans beyond the usual 21 day limit. No reason for the delay has been given by his office.
A council spokesman said the delay was not surprising given the scheme’s complexity. And in a joint statement the development partners added: “Every planning application over a certain size is referred to the secretary of state and sometimes he asks for longer than the 21 days which he is initially allowed. It is simply a normal part of the planning process,”
Opponents of the regeneration scheme have already claimed it would a “living hell” for those who had to live and work in the area. Local campaign group, The Coalition for a Sustainable Brent Cross Cricklewood Development, welcomed the Whitehall delay. “This is a huge victory for us and brings our dream of a public inquiry one step closer,” said coalition co-ordinator Lia Colacicco.
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