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Merry Hill close to regeneration

Merry Hill in Dudley could see another million sq ft of retail development following a key planning decision. The Government Office for the West Midlands has recommended that Merry Hill, and the surrounding Brierley Hill, should be granted strategic centre status in the emerging Regional Spatial Strategy.

JLP agrees with Grosvenor to anchor Crawley

The John Lewis Partnership and Grosvenor have agreed heads of terms for a 255,000-sq ft full-line department store to anchor the Town Centre North scheme in Crawley, West Sussex. Subject to planning the store is scheduled to open in 2013.

CSC sell 36 per cent of MetroCentre

In a major £426m deal, Capital Shopping Centres has sold 40 per cent of its 90 per cent stake in the 1.8m sq ft MetroCentre in Gateshead to the investment arm of the Government of Singapore. The deal values Europe's largest shopping centre at almost £1.2bn. CSC will continue to manage the property.

Westgate extension given the green light

Capital Shopping Centres has been given approval for the extension and partial redevelopment of the Westgate shopping centre in Oxford. Oxford City Council's decision marks the end of a decade-long battle by CSC and its development partner LaSalle Investment Management to extend the centre.

Next expands out of town

Next has opened three new stores in Farnborough, Chelmsford and Lowestoft and exchanged contracts in Gloucester and Salisbury as it renews its out-of-town commitment.

First REIT start-up targets local retail

The first Real Estate Investment Trust to be launched since the advent of REITs in January 2007 will specialise in neighbourhood retail. Castlemore Securities has unveiled plans to float The Local Shopping REIT on the London Stock Exchange, raising £160m of new equity.

Not just for Christmas at John Lewis

Springfield Decorations and Display is proving that decorations aren't just for Christmas with a contract with John Lewis to install the 'Outdoor Living' summer promotional scheme into a number of branches. "We've worked with John Lewis for many years developing their Christmas displays", said Springfield managing director Wendy Ford, "and now we can use our expertise at other times of the year."

Carbon neutral

British Land, Europe's largest property company by assets and owner of Meadowhall in Sheffield, has pledged to become carbon neutral by the end of the next financial year. Other companies like Marks & Spencer have made similar promises, but what is startling about British Land's announcement is its very tight timescale. M&S, for instance, has given itself five years to balance its environmental books.

Volunteers please

The government has again threatened to legislate to ban upwards-only rent reviews unless landlords voluntarily adopt more flexible leasing terms. Unveiling the new code of practice on commercial leases, Housing and Planning Minister Yvette Cooper warned: "We believe the code should have the chance to work but legislation is an option if it doesn't succeed and we will be monitoring it closely."

A Joy to shop

It has been a rapid expansion for fashion and homewares retailer Joy as the company has nearly doubled its stores in just one year.

issues

Perception is a funny thing. One incident or experience can be remembered or rated entirely differently from one person to the next. For example, a shopping centre might be viewed as a fun, exciting and pleasant experience when someone manages to buy exactly what they wanted and another person might see it as uninviting, a mess and awful because they could not park easily.

letters

Having just completed the BCSC's new report on service yards (Servicing Areas for Shopping Centres) I think it worthwhile to point out some interesting factors that will undoubtedly impact on the way shopping centres and other retail destinations are changing and will change in the future.

viewpoint

Five years on we have another code of practice on commercial leases. It's certainly clearer and easier to monitor than the last version, but will it actually achieve any more?

Food feedback

The stunning architecture of the Victoria Quarter in Leeds acts as the backdrop to this month's featured operator. Anthony's Patisserie is the latest addition to the growing portfolio of local operator Anthony Flinn. Best known for his award-winning restaurant offer in nearby Bull Lane, the patisserie sees a first foray for the operator into a retail environment. Anthony's Patisserie, surrounded by boutique retailers and the Quarter's anchor, Harvey Nichols, provides an upmarket daytime offer for the discerning shopper.

Retail requirement

BCSC has launched the latest reports in its Future of Retail Property research programme. The Future of Retail Business Models - carried out for BCSC by the Oxford SAID Business School - and How Much Space? - carried out by Experian Consulting - were unveiled at London's Commonwealth Club.

A Euro-based perspective

Henderson Global Investors is one of the most significant owners of retail property with a Europe-wide portfolio of shopping centres, retail parks and outlet malls worth over £3bn. The properties are held in a number of different specialist funds, which are open to investors from around the world.

Open sesame

Spring has finally sprung, and with the new season a number of shopping centres are throwing open their doors for the first time.

Data analysis

Shopping centre owners are becoming more sophisticated in the way they use their footfall figures, according to an expert in the industry.

Call for entries

The SCEPTRE Awards, rewarding the best practice and the best people in the UK and Ireland shopping centre industry, are back - and they're bigger and better than ever.

lettings

CASTLEFORD

A taste of summer

The north bank of the Thames may not be the traditional location for la dolce vita, but throughout April the Lakeside shopping centre is hosting Il Festival Italiano, a month-long celebration of Italian culture.

All aboard, me hearties!

Captain Blackbeard and his crew of pirates took visitors at Ocean Terminal shopping centre on a high sea adventure last week when students from Queen Margaret University's School of Drama and Creative Industries performed their swashbuckling spring production, Pirates!!!, at the Leith-based shopping and leisure destination.

Joe tops out at Silverburn

It's traditional for the youngest member of a construction team to take part in the topping out ceremony when a structure reaches its highest point.

Anyone for a raw leek?

St David's shopping centre in Cardiff went all out to mark Wales's national day on St David's Day with a packed programme of activities.

moves

NICK PEEL has been promoted to head of retail operations for LAND SECURITIES, covering all of the company's 30 UK shopping centres and 30 retail parks. He previously enjoyed successful roles with Halfords, Morrison Supermarkets, John Menzies and Rangers Football Club before joining Land Securities in 2005 as centre director for the East Kilbride shopping centre. In October 2006 he was promoted to retail operations director for all of Scotland.