SOME of the UK’s biggest High Street names could be tempted into Exeter with the arrival of a new developer for the bus station, the Echo can reveal.
The first planning application for the redevelopment of the city’s bus station site is expected before the end of the year.
Land Securities has sold its 50 per cent stake in Princesshay to global property developer TH Real Estate, along with its interest in the redevelopment of Exeter bus station.
The new developer will now team up with the Crown Estate – which owns the other 50 per cent stake in Princesshay – to complete the scheme.
TH Real Estate is a major owner of the prestigious Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham.
It also owns stakes in the St James centre in Edinburgh and the Whitefriars shopping development in Canterbury.
It works with major retailers not currently in Exeter, including Selfridges, Fenwick, Forever 21, Kurt Geiger, Disney Store, Mango, Pretty Green, G-Star Raw, Tommy Hilfiger, USC and Vans.
Now Exeter City Council – which has confirmed it still wants to build as new swimming pool and leisure complex on the bus station – hopes to tempt some of the prestigious stores TH Real Estate works with elsewhere to Exeter.
Pete Edwards, leader of the city council, said the selling of Land Securities’ stake in Princesshay was positive for Exeter.
He said: “TH Real Estate and the Crown Estate are two of the biggest property companies in the UK – the fact that they are working together in Exeter is fantastic news.
“We’re hoping the Crown Estate will soon undertake pre-application consultation prior to a planning application being submitted to redevelop the current bus and coach station site.
“The arrival of TH Real Estate in Exeter will strengthen its delivery.
“These companies’ combined expertise will deliver significant pulling power and access to new retailers and operators who I’m confident can be tempted to come to Exeter.
“It’s very heartening to have them on board for our journey as the bus station redevelopment moves forward. This is great news for Exeter.”
Karime Hassan, the city council’s chief executive, said: “While Land Securities has been considering its ownership in Exeter, throughout the summer officers have been working with the Crown Estate on the technical documents required to advance a comprehensive scheme.
“This includes the requirement for a new bus and coach station. The principles of a comprehensive scheme builds on the master planning principles approved as part of the Local Plan. The Crown Estate is now in the driving seat and I am confident we will receive an outline planning application before the end of the year.
“In relation to the city council’s own development for the leisure complex and swimming pool, we have now appointed EC Harris as project manager and are currently procuring the design team.
“Architects will be onboard early in the new year and we will be co-ordinating with the Crown Estate and Henderson Real Estate to ensure we bring forward a high quality comprehensive redevelopment scheme that provides a genuine leisure destination.”
Derek Phillips, vice-president of Exeter Chamber of Commerce, also welcomed the deal.
He said: “We are delighted that the new owners are keen to continue with the proposed exciting redevelopment of the bus station site and we look forward to seeing the detailed plans in the future.”
Stagecoach will continue to use the bus station as a picking-up and dropping-off point after the redevelopment. But it will relocate its depot and park its buses elsewhere overnight.
A spokesman said: “We will continue to work with the city council to find an alternative home from which to operate Exeter’s bus network.”
Paul Clark, director of Investment and Asset Management at the Crown Estate, added: “We’re looking forward to working with TH Real Estate to explore opportunities to further enhance Princesshay, developing the shopping experience for visitors and ensuring the centre continues to deliver a range of benefits locally.”
Land Securities will continue to own its 50 per cent stake in 1-11 Sidwell Street, occupied by John Lewis.
New partnership brings an impressive retail resume
THE sale by Land Securities of its 50 per cent stake in Princesshay means a new partnership between the Crown Estate – which already owned 50 per cent of Princesshay – and TH Real Estate.
It brings together two of the biggest names in UK retail property, with the Crown Estate managing the centre on behalf of the partnership.
TH Real Estate has specialised in retail property for more than 30 years.
It has been involved in some of the best-known and largest retail schemes across the UK and Europe, including Birmingham’s Bullring, which has Selfridges as its flagship store.
Many of these schemes have been ground breaking in terms of scale, design and innovation.
The Crown Estate is one of the UK’s most substantial owners of retail property with a portfolio that includes 16 retail parks, London’s Regent Street and much of St James’s, together with interests in shopping centres in Oxford and Worcester.
Stephen Wicks, director of Shopping Centres at TH Real Estate and fund manager of the UK Shopping Centre Fund, said: “Princesshay provides an exciting opportunity to add value through asset management initiatives and we are confident that we can unlock significant value for our investors.
“We are excited to enter into partnership with the Crown Estate and look forward to a collaborative working relationship together.”