Global shopping-centre giant Westfield Group (ASX: WDC) and its joint venture partner Hammerson (a UK property group) have received the final planning consent for the £1 billion ($1.83 billion) redevelopment of the Whitgift centre at Croydon, located in South London.
The Croydon redevelopment will prove to be one of the world’s largest redevelopments, where it is planned that as many as 600 new homes and a leisure centre will be added. In addition, the developers have agreed to invest in Croydon’s transport networks, the improvement of nearby highways, new lighting and environmental improvements as well as additional bus and tram services.
The local government granted the groups the required approval, stating that “the economy is on the up – the timing just couldn’t be better”. London Mayor Boris Johnson has also praised the two companies’ efforts, saying in November that he had begun seeing rejuvenation in other parts of London as a result of their efforts and that Croydon could once again become a “major driver of (the local) economy”.
While local residents will be major beneficiaries of the redevelopment, it will also likely act as a booster on the shopping-centre giant’s earnings when it opens for business. Sales continue to strengthen throughout its UK centres, where it is also planning the expansion of its Westfield London centre. Plans for the expansion received a significant boost last year following the decision of John Lewis to open a full-line, multi-level department store at the mall which would act as a huge attraction to customers.
Should Westfield’s proposal to split its domestic and international stores receive shareholder approval, the Croydon store would form part of the newly formed Westfield Corporation, while its domestic assets would be merged with Westfield Retail Trust’s (ASX: WRT) to form the new Scentre Group.