Hammerson has exchanged conditional contracts to acquire Royal London's interest in the 155-year headlease of the Whitgift Centre, Croydon. The consideration for the 25% stake is £65 million (approx. 80 million).
There is significant asset management and development potential for the both the center and Croydon's wider retail core. In conjunction with Hammerson's existing ownership of the adjacent Centrale center, the acquisition will strengthen Hammerson's ownership interest in Croydon. In July Hammerson revealed plans for the Whitgift Quarter, a 150,000 m² development which will restore the town to its rightful place as one of the UK's leading shopping destinations.
The plans include up to 130,000 m² of new retail and leisure space on the site of the Whitgift Centre, additional leisure space, and up to 500 residential units. Hammerson has already demonstrated its commitment to Croydon with its plans to extend and refurbish the Centrale shopping center to create a family leisure quarter, which received planning permission in May.
Whitgift Quarter will incorporate the extended Centrale and a revitalized North End as well as the redeveloped Whitgift Centre site, transforming Croydon's whole town center to the benefit of all the town's stakeholders.
A public consultation program on the Whitgift Quarter plans began last week and the latest version of the plans will be presented to Croydon Council's Strategic Planning Committee in October. Subject to planning consent, work will start on site in the first quarter of 2014 with completion as early as 2017.
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."
Drew Watkins, Senior Fund Manager at Royal London, said: "Ever since our first discussions with Hammerson, we have been hugely impressed with their commitment to Croydon, and the quality of their vision for the Whitgift Centre. Having been investors in the Whitgift Centre for many years, we are confident Hammerson is the right company to deliver the retail solution that Croydon needs."