Another development while I was away is the news that Hammerson have exchanged contracts for the purchase of Royal London Asset Management's interest in the Whitgift Centre*.
This is a potentially significant development - Royal London will now apply to the Whitgift Foundation for permission to assign the lease to Hammerson and the Foundation will have to decide what to do (I should make it clear at this point that I am a Governor of the Foundation but I am taking no part in decisions relating to the future of the Whitgift Centre so that I am free to represent the interests of my constituents as I see fit). If the Foundation say no, Royal London are likely to challenge that decision in the courts and this will be the first test of the strength of the legal position of both parties.
My view is that either of the Hammerson and Westfield schemes would be great news for Croydon and that what we must avoid is prolonged stalemate so in my eyes this latest development is good news.
* For those not familiar with the background, Hammerson and Westfield, two of the most prestigious retail developers in the country, are competing to redevelop the Whitgift Centre. Westfield have signed an agreement with the Whitgift Foundation, who own the freehold of the Centre. Hammerson are the preferred partner of Royal London Asset Management, who own a 155-year leasehold stake in the Centre, and of IBRC AC, a company owned by the Irish Government which holds various Irish bank debts. Hammerson also own the Centrale shopping centre and their scheme would therefore seek to manage the two centres as one.