British Land posts upbeat third quarter as London mayor Boris Johnson approves Norton Folgate plans

Kasmira Jefford
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Plans for British Land's mixed-used scheme on Blossom Street in Shoreditch were approved last night by Boris Johnson (Source: British Land)

Customers flocking to British Land’s shopping centres and ongoing demand for its offices helped the landlord deliver a strong performance in the third quarter, as the group also revealed that plans for a controversial Shoreditch scheme had been approved.

The FTSE 100 property giant said retail footfall rose by two per cent over the Christmas quarter, with Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield enjoying the biggest rise in visitors over the period, up four per cent.

It completed 290,000 square feet (sq ft) of retail lettings and renewals and a further 22,000 sq ft of office lettings including the Leadenhall Building dubbed the Cheesegrater skyscraper in the City, which is now 94 per cent let.

The group also sold £207m of non-core properties in the quarter including £94m of superstores such as Sainsbury's Islington site, which was sold for £63m.

British Land is pressing ahead with a string of developments including controversial plans for a 347,000 sq ft mixed-use scheme on Blossom Street in London’s Spitalfields, which was given the green light by London mayor Boris Johnson last night.

The scheme, which will see the old Victoria warehouses Norton Folgate site redeveloped, was initially being opposed by the local authority after fierce opposition from local campaigns groups, who argue that it will destroy the heritage and history of the area.

Heads of terms for British Land’s giant Canada Water redevelopment was also agreed on by Southwark Council, paving the way for a 5.5m sq ft new town centre regeneration of the area that includes the Daily Mail & General Trust’s former printing works site.

Chief executive, Chris Grigg, said: "We had another strong quarter: our occupational markets remained robust and we continued to be active in the investment markets.”

“Looking forward, while we are mindful that the economic and political outlook is clearly more uncertain since the half year, we are confident in the underlying strength of our business," he added.

Shares in the company, which have fallen by 16 per cent over the last three months, have risen by 1.4 per cent so far today. However analysts remained cautious on their outlook for the group.

Liberum kept its “hold” recommendation and warned in a note yesterday that faltering international demand for UK commercial property, uncertainty over a potential Brexit and rising office supply could all weigh on returns generated by the group.

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