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UK shopping centre pipeline slows

The UK will not see a return to the levels of store openings until 2016, according to estimates unveiled at this morning’s British Council of Shopping Centres’ (BCSC) Showcase.

This year will see 1.5m sq ft of space opened, with centres such as Trinity Leeds and Whiteley. However the BCSC/Lunson Mitchenall Shopping Centre Development Pipeline 2013 published today has downgraded estimates of how much space is being readied “long term” from 29.4m sq ft to 28.4m sq ft.

Although long term is not defined, the report notes that the average development takes 11 years to complete from inception, “so by definition any view on pipeline has a long term horizon”.

The report states that this reduction comes “primarily as a result of continued demand/delivery challenges”

It noted: “Increasingly, the more challenging retail environment means those which missed the previous development cycle, may face a long wait before any form of scheme once more becomes a serious proposition.”

As a result it will not be until 2016, when the likes of Westfield Bradford and Bracknell Northern Retail Quarter are expected to open, that the UK will return to previous levels of strength.

The report also notes that domestic retailers are looking at “larger yet fewer stores”, but international brands such as J Crew, William Sonoma and Victoria’s Secret are all looking to the UK as a strategic location for market expansion.

BCSC chief executive Michael Green said: “Today, I would like to throw down the gauntlet to local authorities who are so pivotal in retail-led urban regeneration. Not just in terms of their role in the planning process but also because so much development is carried out in land and development partnership agreements with councils. They are instrumental to developers delivering their projects. We need to focus on the redevelopment of our town centres so they are fit for purpose; many are not nowadays, hence the reviews and taskforces created to address the issues.

“We would like local authorities to look at their retail plans and engage with the industry to be more creative. This is about a solid and thorough assessment of how much retail there needs to be and where it should be located.

“Now, with both Portas and Grimsey both making it clear that councils need support, we are offering the help of our sector to drive economic growth and recovery.”

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