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Westfield’s third London mall plans in a wrangle Friday, 2nd December 2011
Westfield’s plans to turn a shopping centre in Croydon into its third mega-mall in London has been hit by new resistance after two key Whitgift Centre stakeholders chose to leave the developer out of discussions this week.
The pressure mounted this week over a growing split between Whitgift’s freeholder and two leaseholders over the appointment of a developer for the somewhat outdated Croydon asset.
Westfield, the world’s second largest developer by capital, said it had entered into an exclusive arrangement to redevelop the Croydon site with freeholder the Whitfirdt Foundation charity in November.
Royal London Asset Management retorted by stating that neither it, nor Irish Bank Resolution Corp (IBRC), formerly Anglo Irish Bank, had been consulted on the plans. The two firms own or control 75 per cent of the leasehold between them, with the Whitgift foundation holding the remaining 25 percent.
In turn Royal London and IBRC held a meeting on Thursday to discuss their own separate plans about redeveloping the 1.2 million sq ft mall and the possibility of inviting other developers to submit proposals, sources speaking to Reuters said.
Further sources familiar with the deal said neither the Whitgift Foundation nor Westfield were present at the Thursday meeting.
The Whitgift Centre has not undergone a major facelift since it was built in 1970. The redevelopment of the centre requires all three stakeholders to agree on a development partner.
"There are several other parties (besides Westfield) that are equally capable of delivering a good quality scheme," the source said. Contrary to media reports, no developer is yet in talks with the two leaseholders, a second source said.
A Royal London spokesman told Reuters on Friday that the selection of a developer would be "the result of an open and transparent process."