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Prescott axes BDP's £80m Brent Cross retail scheme

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Deputy prime minister John Prescott has thrown out bdp's £80 million plans to extend the Brent Cross shopping centre in London, following a public inquiry. Prescott decided against the advice of Brent planners and ruled out the massive extension on the grounds that the new addition represented an out-of-town development.

Prescott moved last week to quash the proposals for developer Hammerson and Standard Life Investments which would have extended floorspace at the retail centre by 27,000m2.

But Hammerson said the scheme had been in line with government policy, involving no net increase in car parking and even a £30 million investment into a public transport package. The developers also wanted to set up a charging policy for shoppers' parking.

'To say we're disappointed is an understatement,' said Hammerson chief executive John Richards. 'I think it's counterintuitive. It's an established shopping centre for that area and we don't believe that it would have damaged other centres such as Kilburn and Wembley. And I don't accept it's out-of-town.'

Richards said the judgment on the inquiry indicated that Brent Cross, which he claimed was 'at the top of the uk retail hierarchy', did not fit into the government's view of what constitutes a town centre because 'it did not have a wide enough range of facilities'. But neither was it explicit about what those missing facilities were.

'We are naturally very disappointed, particularly as we incorporated the latest government guidance and policy statements into our revised proposals,' Richards added. 'We shall now consider all alternative and complementary opportunities for the surplus land.' Richards indicated, too, that bdp would remain on board.

The scheme would have meant 20 new shop units and around 1500 jobs to add to the 5000 who already work at the centre. Brent resolved to grant planning consent for the southern extension proposals on 17 June 1998, after two years of public consultation.

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