Retailer buys 25 per cent in Croydon shopping centre
Developers Hammerson have stepped up the pressure on rivals Westfield by buying a 25 per cent stake in the Whitgift Centre.
The Anglo-French company which bought Centrale Shopping Centre last year for £100m, is reported to have bought Royal London Asset Management's (RLAM) stake in the North End site for £65m.
Hammerson and rival retail giant Westfield have been locked in battle to redevelop the Whitgift Centre since November last year when freeholders The Whitgift Foundation announced Australian company Westfield as its development partner.
The decision was challenged by the majority stakeholders RLAM and Irish Bank Resolution Company, and following a tendering process, they announced Hammerson as the preferred option.
Both companies have produced plans for the historic centre with detailed plans issued to Croydon Council by Westfield last week and a public consultation beginning on outline plans held by Hammerson over the weekend.
Those plans are expected to go before the council next month.
David Atkins, Chief Executive of Hammerson, said: "We are absolutely committed to the delivery of our plans for Croydon, and we are confident that the development of the Whitgift Quarter will play a key role in the regeneration of the town.
"This transaction with Royal London is a key milestone in the development of our plans and our strategy to deliver a new retail core for Croydon. We are seeking to work collaboratively with all the owners and other stakeholders to bring forward this exciting scheme."
The Whitgift Foundation, which has continued to back Westfield as its preferred option despite the decision by the leaseholders said nothing had changed.
A spokesman from the charity said: "The Foundation has been advised this morning that RLAM wish to assign their lease to Hammerson.
"The Foundation has no other information and will consider any application in the normal way when it is received."