Recently in London Category
A new year brings new allegiances, and if 2013 brings a more noteworthy one than the Westfield/Hammerson joint venture announced today, it might well cause the property industry to implode.
So many column inches last year were dedicated to the 'impasse' between the two heavyweights over the proposed redevelopment of Croydon's Whitgift Centre - and with it, the potential to dominate South London's retail and leisure scene for the foreseeable future.
The origin of the feud came via this story in November 2011, when it was announced that Westfield had began exclusive discussions over the scheme redevelopment with freeholder and 25% long leaseholder, The Whitgift Foundation. Fellow long leaseholders, Royal London Asset Management and Anglo Irish Bank didn't take too kindly to this being announced without their blessing, and so backed Centrale owner Hammerson to oversee the regeneration of both malls.
Since then, we've had 14 months of carefully-designed surveys, various planning applications, 'battle lines' being drawn, mayoral opinions, and even presidential election-esque tactics, as each developer strained to one-up its rival. But now, thankfully, we have a resolution.
A press conference taking place this morning will reveal more details behind the joint venture's proposals for Croydon, so it's unclear at present if existing planning applications or consents will be factored into the £1 billion regeneration project.
Hammerson obtained permission in May 2012 to reconfigure 140,000 sq ft of retail space at Centrale into an 11-screen cinema, two flagship retail stores and eight restaurant units. For its part, Westfield has lodged an application for the redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre, with 1.3 million sq ft of retail space, and 150,000 sq ft dedicated to leisure.
One would, however, anticipate an entirely new proposal to be lodged - and I imagine that it will be Hammerson's "Whitgift Quarter" - an amalgamation of both schemes - that provides the blueprint for the joint venture to take forward.
In any event, it's terrific news for Croydon residents and Croydon Council after over a year of uncertainty - they have two heavyweight developers with an unrivalled wealth of combined expertise in how to build large, successful schemes. Lets hope that the joint venture yields more than the sum of its parts, and that the town can finally live up to its enormous potential.