The £4.5billion transformation of Brent Cross Shopping Centre to create a total lifestyle experience could impact struggling High Streets retailers across the South East.
That’s according to Bruton Knowles property specialist Steve Pozerskis – who fears the revolutionary Brent Cross facility will, when finished, draw even more footfall away from struggling regional shopping districts.
“As commercial property commentators we would applaud the breadth of the developer’s ambitions. But the new Brent Cross mini-city will be a game changer for the South East and even further afield.”
The regeneration plan envisages a massive two million sq ft of retail and leisure space housing 200 retail stories, 60 restaurants, cinema and hotel.
Anchor stores John Lewis and M&S will be a major draw.
“This is the next stage in the evolution of retail which will put Brent Cross on everybody’s shopping list. This could have implications for High Streets and shopping malls not just in London and the South East but as far afield as Bristol and even Cardiff.
“It is vital towns such as Guildford ensure their local retail centres offer a viable alternative to the out of town experience.
“If necessary the required investment in local infrastructure could be paid for from planning contributions made by developers on sites such as the proposed Wisley airfield scheme.”
Steve Pozerskis said failure to invest in local High Streets would see more shoppers heading out of town.
“New facilities such as Brent Cross will become a magnet for people looking to spend the entire day there - possibly even the entire weekend.
“Small shopkeepers and independent outlets will no doubt insist they are offering a local alternative but it is difficult to see how they can compete against a global destination – especially as many retailers are already struggling with falling footfall and rising business rates.
“When you factor in congestion and lack of parking, out-of-town centres are continuing to set the pace and it is vital our borough and town councils ensure they have a viable and attractive alternative in place.”