Westfield delivered the latest slap in the face to Croydon this morning, when it announced that it is to move its corporate headquarters to Shepherd’s Bush.
True, Westfield London does have an advantage over Westfield Croydon, in that it has already been built.
But today’s announcement by Unibail-Rodamco Westfield was immediately interpreted by some council figures as the latest sign of lack of confidence in the global shopping centre operators ever delivering on their long-promised plans for Croydon.
According to trade publications, Westfield will quit its central London headquarters in High Holborn and take up a 27,000 sq ft office in new commercial accommodation above the existing shopping centre, part of “a desire by the business to bring its employees and occupiers together”.
The offices will look out on to the outdoor entertainment and events space – Westfield Square – and the recently announced Exhibition London, which is a 3,000-capacity event space in the historic DIMCO buildings. Westfield completed their shopping centre at Shepherd’s Bush in 2008, but has recently undertaken what it calls a “Phase Two” expansion, and the company will be taking up around half of the commercial space created by Phase Two.
Commercial property insiders have suggested that the decision to move into the recently completed offices may be because Westfield have encountered difficulties in finding rent-paying tenants.
Westfield announced in February that it was postponing the planned start of demolition work on Croydon’s Whitgift Centre, while they and their partners on the £1.4billion scheme, Hammerson, conduct a “review” of their plans. Since 2012, Westfield has been granted planning permission for two versions of their Croydon development, which was originally supposed to be open for business by 2017.
Three months after their announcement, and the company has still to state how long it intends to conduct its review of the Croydon project, nor when it expects to begin construction work, if at all.
Today, talking of the company’s office move to Shepherd’s Bush, Unibail-Rodamco Westfield director Una O’Reilly said: “Our London destinations continue to be catalysts for the development of the surrounding areas, making them attractive places to visit, work, live and enjoy.”
O’Reilly didn’t mention the last time she visited the Whitgift Centre.
“We wanted our UK Headquarters to be right at the heart of it. Our new head offices are designed by our people, for our people and bringing them together in a dynamic and collaborative working environment.”
Which is nice.
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