Is the Westfield Partnership about to change direction and down size retail in favour of more leisure facilities? Rumour has it that is what is being considered behind the scenes.
This would be no surprise given that it’s the core of the planned expansion of Westfield London and the trend at many other shopping centres as discussed in Retail Focus.
With demolition due to start in the New Year a revised planning application would have to be rushed through the Planning Committee to minimise further delays in construction start. If the rumour is correct that demolition will not actually start until the autumn, then there is more time for a revised application.
The current main leisure facility is to be a cinema, competing with the Town Centre’s Vue. What could be added which could be big magnets for people to come to the Centre are a swimming facility, a dance hall, an ice/roller skating rink, a new medium size meeting and events venue, a theatre, and a museum facility.
It makes sense to change the balance because of the continuing retail crisis, especially effecting shopping centres, and the approval of a new shopping centre scheme for Elephant and Castle. It would also make sense to keep attracting people to buy the Town Centre apartments. There is no point having an art gallery given that the owners of the St George’s Walk development are considering for SEGAS House.
It would be worth creating a public garden at the West Croydon end of the site enhancing the setting St Michael’s Church, and providing a green open space that could be used by the residents of the multi-coloured monstrosity on the other side of Wellesley Rd. The partnership could also abandoning the residential tower blocks for apartments spread across the roof of the new Centre complex.
Retail Focus reports that Keith Mabbett, director of leasing at Westfield Europe, is says that Westfield London’s success ‘has been creating a retail and entertainment destination that spans beyond the traditional shopping centre offering.’ ‘Today, dining, leisure and entertainment have become the new anchor and experience is king,’ claims Mabbett.
A report by Cushman & Wakefield UK Shopping Centres: Dead or Alive states that ‘the shopping centre is being transformed from a place where people just go to buy “stuff” into a live-work-play environment, driven by food and beverage, experience and a sense of community’. It suggests ‘that the most successful shopping centre schemes are those that bring together the physical and digital worlds through the use of technology.’