Progress in IBRC Croydon project


THE IRISH Bank Resolution Corporation’s plan to redevelop a shopping centre in Croydon in south London moved a step closer yesterday with the announcement that its co-partner in the project, Royal London Asset Management, had sold its stake to the FTSE-listed developer Hammerson.

Hammerson announced yesterday that it had purchased Royal London’s stake in the leasehold for £65 million. Royal London, together with the IBRC, owns 75 per cent of the leasehold on the sought-after site.

The shopping centre is now at the centre of a battle for control between two of the world’s largest shopping centre developers, which are looking for the right to develop the scheme.

Last November, Australian developer Westfield entered a development agreement with Whitgift Foundation, which owns the freehold and 25 per cent of the leasehold on the shopping centre.

However, Royal London and the IBRC subsequently signed an exclusive agreement with rival Hammerson for the redevelopment.

Both Hammerson and Westfield have outlined detailed plans for the scheme.

The announcement that Hammerson has now acquired 25 per cent of the leasehold significantly increases its involvement in the project.

The IBRC said yesterday that the acquisition “strengthens the position of Hammerson, IBRC’s chosen partner, for the management and redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre”.

Whitgift is a 1.2 million sq ft shopping centre located in the centre of Croydon. It comprises 167 retail units, including department stores and a supermarket, and attracts around 28 million shoppers a year.

Hammerson already owns the Centrale mall located adjacent to Whitgift, and is planning a new development that will encompass both sites.

Westfield said yesterday that the development would not affect its plans for the centre. It already operates two major “super-malls” in London.