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Huge new John Lewis and Waitrose store confirmed for Westfield and Hammerson Whitgift redevelopment – live updates

Huge new John Lewis and Waitrose store confirmed for Westfield and Hammerson Whitgift redevelopment – live updates
May 31, 2018 Shaking Hands 0 comments
This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 31/05/2018.

Huge new John Lewis and Waitrose store confirmed for Westfield and Hammerson Whitgift redevelopment – live updates

After much speculation, the anchor store has finally been announced.

Westfield and Hammerson have announced that an agreement has been reached with the John Lewis Partnership to bring a joint John Lewis and Waitrose store to the huge Whitgift redevelopment.

The announcement, made on Thursday morning (May 31) means a huge four-storey John Lewis will be the key store in the £1.4billion development.

The Croydon Partnership say the 165,000 sq ft anchor store will have a Waitrose on the ground floor and three floors dedicated to the department store.

After being the green light by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, and unanimously approved by Croydon Council’s planning committee, it is expected the new Westfield shopping centre will begin construction next year.

It is estimated that between 6,270 and 7,048 full-time-equivalent jobs will be created throughout the whole Westfield development, while a minimum of 626 flats will be built, though that figure could rise as high as 967 in up to five tower blocks – 20 per cent of which will be available at rents below market rates.

There had been doubts over whether a John Lewis department store would feature in the development after the company last year announced it would no longer be opening new stores.

The development, which is set to bring 7,000 jobs to Croydon, has been called “crucial” by the Mayor.

Follow all the latest reaction and analysis on this breaking story on our live blog below.

“This is a massive boost for the town, and given John Lewis’ reluctance to open any new stores, it’s a huge vote of confidence in Croydon and the scheme,” said Croydon South MP Chris Philp.

“Let’s deliver this project as quickly as possible, without further delay. This will make Croydon the go-to shopping destination for 4 million people across south London and millions more in Surrey and beyond.”

You can read more views here.

Earlier on we shared some speculative ideas on the types of shops which could open as well as John Lewis, M&S and Waitrose.

Having looked at what restaurants are at Westfield’s two giant shopping centres in Stratford and Shepherd’s Bush, we’ve picked out some restaurants we could see in Croydon’s new Westfield.

These are 11 restaurants we could see at the new Westfield shopping centre in Croydon

Plans for the new Westfield/Hammerson development in Croydon

Construction of Croydon’s huge new shopping centre won’t begin until at least early 2019.

Speaking to the Advertiser in November 2017, after planning permission for the development was granted by Croydon Council’s planning committee, Westfield’s development director Steve Yewman explained why.

He said: “The earliest start we can do is 2019, so the Whitgift would have two more Christmases [2017 and 2018] and we can then start the work then, but we have to get everyone moved first.

“There are many, many milestones in this project.”

He added: “This is a very, very complex scheme. One of the key things that we want to make sure happens is that Croydon continues to trade throughout the whole development.”

Development director for Westfield, Steve Yewman

Along with the exciting confirmation about John Lewis and Waitrose, there are dozens of projects lined up to take place in Croydon to make it an even better place to live by 2024.

You can find out details on 46 planned projects here.

How Croydon could look once all the projects are complete

Croydon will attract shoppers from across south London, Surrey and beyond, once the Whitgift redevelopment is complete, according to Croydon South MP Chris Philp.

The Conservative MP said: “It’s fantastic news for Croydon that John Lewis and Waitrose have signed as anchor tenants for Westfield. This is a massive boost for the town, and given John Lewis’ reluctance to open any new stores, it’s a huge vote of confidence in Croydon and the scheme.

“Let’s deliver this project as quickly as possible, without further delay. This will make Croydon the go-to shopping destination for 4 million people across south London and millions more in Surrey and beyond.”

Mr Philp said the approval "should have happened sooner"

So here’s a bit of speculation. With John Lewis, Waitrose and M&S confirmed, who else would you like to see in the redeveloped Whitgift Centre?

Here’s 11 other stores that could come to the Westfield and Hammerson development.

The shoe and gym collections make Adidas a popular attraction

So, the John Lewis Partnership says there will be something totally new about the store it is planning for the Westfield and Hammerson site.

Read the full story on what that is here.

It will be the only John Lewis in the country to have this

So, here’s a roundup of the key points from today’s announcement:

  • Westfield and Hammerson have reached an agreement with the John Lewis Partnership for an anchor store in the Whitgift redevelopment
  • The store will be four storeys and 165,000 square feet
  • In what John Lewis is calling a ‘new concept’ Waitrose will occupy the ground floor, with a John Lewis department store on the other three
  • Marks and Spencer will be the other anchor store on the site
  • Croydon Partnership (Westfield and Hammerson) say ‘earliest date’ for work to start is 2019

Croydon Central MP Sarah Jones says she is due to meet with Westfield tonight about the development, which sits in her constituency.

The Labour MP said: “This is another big step forward for Croydon. After years of delays we are finally on our way to becoming the major retail hub of south London. One of my priorities is to ensure this development works for the whole community, and I’m looking forward to meeting with Westfield this evening to talk about how we can work together to harness the talents of our young people, develop the right skills, and reduce knife crime.”

MP for Croydon Central Sarah Jones

So, we’ve had it confirmed that a John Lewis and Waitrose will occupy the site of one of the main anchor stores on the site. But what about the other?

Well, that store is set to be a new Marks and Spencer, set to replace the current M&S at the northern end of the current Whitgift Centre. Originally the plan had been to keep the current M&S, though when the plans went back to the drawing board and were expanded a new option emerged to build a brand new store instead, it was announced in April last year. It’s been confirmed today that’s still the plan.

Marks and Spencer in North End

The consensus across party lines seems to be that the announcement of John Lewis is a big step forward for Croydon.

You can read the announcement from Westfield, Hammerson and the John Lewis Partnership in full here.

“A lot of eyes are on Croydon at the moment – and for the right reasons,” Croydon Council Leader Tony Newman has told us.

The Labour leader told our reporter: “I think it’s great news at a time when there have been many retail stores closing. It really is a significant vote of confidence in Croydon. It’s going to part of the change in Croydon, what with the investment of Fairfield Halls and other projects.

“It’s a significant piece of news for the borough. It’s a very high value and quality retail development that will be coming.”

He added that at a time, nationally, where many retail companies are making closures it was ‘significant’ that a store, as big as John Lewis, would choose to invest and open a branch in Croydon. When asked if the store was on schedule for work to begin next year, he said: “That’s the plan”

Croydon Council leader, Tony Newman

The Whitgift Foundation, the freehold owner of the land where the Westfield Hammerson shopping centre will be built, is said to be “thrilled” that a deal with John Lewis has been reached and that Croydon will be transformed into one of the UK’s top 10 shopping destinations.

Martin Corner, the Foundation’s chief executive said: “As a Croydon charity and freehold owner of the Whitgift Centre, the success of the redevelopment will help secure our future funding to continue to help people in the local community.

“The rental income we receive from the Whitgift Centre supports our work: to grant bursaries for young people to achieve an excellent education and promote social mobility; to create caring communities for older people and to provide free advice, training and health and wellbeing activities to Croydon’s unpaid carers.”

The Foundation said the income generated from its investments and property holdings, including the Whitgift Centre, enables the charity to carry our education, care and carer support work across the borough, including £5m towards bursaries and financial assistance to pupils at Whitgift, Trinity and Old Palace Schools, helping 100 older people in Whitgift Care Homes, and the Carer Support Centre in George Street.

 Martin Corney, chief executive of the Whitgift Foundation at Whitgift Almhouses

The leader of Croydon’s opposition Conservative group, Tim Pollard, said the John Lewis announcement “could make Croydon special again”, and has warned neighbouring boroughs that Croydon could benefit at their expense.

He said: “It is obviously absolutely vital for the development. Without the anchor store, there’s some doubt that there would be a development at all. And we need that [the development] here in Croydon very badly now. Obviously we have had quite a lot of delay in the run-up to this, we just need to get cracking on with it now and get it going. We’ve been told for months now that the intention was to work through this over Christmas – but it can’t come a moment too soon I think.”

He added the anchor stores “will not be good news for places like Bromley, Sutton and even Kingston” as shoppers are more likely to come to Croydon now.

Given that when the redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre was announced about a decade ago, it was said the replacement shopping centre would be open by now, it’s safe to say some are sceptical about any dates for when work will actually start.

But with updated plans given planning permission at the end of last year, and now an agreement being reached with one of the key stores, it seems to be edging closer. The latest forecast is for work to start “in 2019”.

What Westfield could look like

In a press release on the announcement, Croydon Council has said the development will be a “world-class retail and leisure centre” and has welcomed the commitment between the Westfield and Hammerson and the John Lewis Partnership.

Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes said in a statement: “This confidence from John Lewis and Waitrose is the confidence we are seeing increasingly from investors who are keen to be part of Croydon’s growth and its future, with immense benefits for local people. Croydon’s new retail and leisure centre will deliver 7,000 new jobs for local people in the construction, retail and leisure industries, as well as nearly 1,000 new homes in our town centre. We look forward to work getting underway and to the wealth of opportunities this exciting project will bring to our local community.”

Councillor Alison Butler

The announcement this morning comes as something of a surprise after John Lewis’s managing director Paula Nicholds told the Sunday Times last year that the retailer would not open any new stores. John Lewis had been mentioned as close to signing a deal during the CPO inquiry into the development in 2015, though Ms Nicholds’ comments seemed to cast huge doubts on whether that deal could be concluded. What remains to be seen is what this means for the future of the John Lewis at Home store in Purley Way, which itself is due to be redeveloped.

John Lewis at Home, on Purley Way

It seems that Croydon’s John Lewis will take a slightly different form to the anchor stores in the capital’s two other Westfield shopping malls, in that the ground floor will be made up of a Waitrose supermarket. The three other floors will then be occupied by the John Lewis department store. Altogether, we’re told it will be a 165,000 square feet store. ‘Anchor store’ is a term used to describe the large department store-style buildings that form part of a shopping mall development. In this case, the joint Waitrose and John Lewis make sense, since both are operated by the John Lewis Partnership.

John Lewis store on Oxford Street

A statement on behalf of recently re-elected Croydon Council leader Tony Newman has greeted the announcement. It says: “This is great news for Croydon. John Lewis and Waitrose’s commitment to being a part of the £1.4bn redevelopment of The Whitgift Shopping Centre demonstrates their confidence in Croydon’s regeneration, its infrastructure and its growth and most importantly, as a place that people want to be. We look forward to work starting on Croydon’s new world-class retail and leisure development next year and the wealth of offerings this will bring to local people, and to welcoming John Lewis to our town centre.”

Croydon Council leader Tony Newman

Representatives from the Croydon Partnership (Westfield and Hammerson) have spoken about their “delight” at the announcement.

John Burton, Westfield Europe’s head of development said: “The Croydon Partnership is delighted to deliver two of the UK’s leading brands. This is a major milestone and is a demonstration of the strength of Croydon and the project. John Lewis is the most requested addition to the town centre and its arrival will ensure Croydon’s future as the retail and leisure capital for South London.”

John Burton, Westfield's head of development