Westfield could open a third London shopping centre after it became a development partner at a facility in Croydon town centre.
Australian developer Westfield has agreed a deal with Whitgift Foundation, the owner of Whitgift shopping centre’s freehold, to become its development partner. Redevelopment of the 630,000 sq ft Whitgift shopping centre could help the local authority to press on with its regeneration of Croydon town centre.
Westfield is reportedly in talks over acquiring 50 per cent of the leasehold held by Anglo Irish Bank and is also looking at other land in the area. Anglo Irish, along with developer Howard Holdings, acquired its stake in 2005 for £220m.
London is already home to two Westfield shopping centres, located in White City and Stratford, with the latter opening to great fanfare in September. The developer described Croydon as a “strategic location” with strong transport links to Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Gatwick airport. Croydon is currently “under-served by high quality retail and leisure facilities” and the new scheme could attract three million customers, it said.
Westfield’s Europe managing director Michael Gutman 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.
“Westfield and the Whitgift Foundation will seek a constructive dialogue with all the key stakeholders over the coming weeks and months to seek to bring this much-anticipated project to fruition.”
Some analysts have remarked that there are too many shops in the UK, claiming the industry should close retail space rather than opening more outlets.
The Whitgift Foundation’s chairman of the court of governors, Ian Harley, said: “The foundation been working for many years to help bring about much needed improvements to the town centre. The foundation welcomes this agreement to work in partnership with Westfield and other key stakeholders to secure a major new investment in the retail centre of Croydon, which is not only intended to achieve much needed improvements to the Whitgift shopping centre but also help bring about the regeneration of the town centre generally.”