Firms fight to clinch Whitgift mall overhaul

Kasmira Jefford
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PLANS to turn Croydon’s Whitgift shopping centre into one of London’s biggest malls reached a stalemate yesterday when its owners sided with two different developers, Westfield Group and Hammerson.

The centre’s leaseholders Royal London Asset Management and Irish Bank Resolution, who together own a 75 per cent stake in the mall, said they had signed an exclusivity deal with Hammerson to sell a stake, expected to be around 25 per cent.

But the announcement sparked an angry response from the educational charity the Whitgift Foundation, the mall’s freeholder, which in November had signed its own exclusive development agreement for the 1.2m square foot mall with Westfield.

The foundation, which also owns a 25 per cent share of the long leasehold, described the decision as “inexplicable” adding it was “excluded from the process”.

“We see an immediate and narrow window of opportunity which requires urgent action, focus and commitment and we continue to invite the leaseholders to be part of this solution and to work with us in Croydon’s best interests,” it said.

Westfield declined to comment. It said last year a major retail scheme could attract over 3m customers.

Hammerson, which already owns Croydon’s Centrale mall responded yesterday saying its plans “to deliver a step change for Croydon town centre”.

The revival of the tired 1960s mall is now likely to be stalled as all three stakeholders had to agree on a single developer.