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The second stage of the transformation of the Wythenshawe town centre in South Manchester has been launched with the announcement of  a deal to create a new Asda supermarket  in the large store which Asda has agreed to acquire from the Co-op. This agreement will deliver  £20 million of  investment to the centre.

Asda, part of retail giant Walmart, will open its new 60,000 sq ft supermarket  next summer in the  shopping centre which is owned by Redman Heenan Properties, the investment subsidiary of St Modwen Properties PLC.

An improved foodstore was one of the targets set out in the Wythenshawe Town Centre masterplan  which was approved by Manchester City Council’s executive last July.

Asda will take over and extensively refurbish the  existing Co-op store, which is due to close in January. Swan  Walk, a pedestrian link between the town centre and  car park, will become a covered and heated mall incorporated into the new store, maintaining and improving the link between the surface car park and the main pedestrianised malls.

Staff from the existing Co-op store will transfer to Asda, while the Post Office and Co-op Travel Store units, currently located in the Co-op , will be relocated in new units being created by Redman Heenan at present.

St Modwen and the City Council have been working closely on the regeneration of the Wythenshawe town centre since 1996 when St Modwen entered into a long term lease/development agreement with the City. The first stage was the relocation of the market, the upgrading of the malls, new retail space built in Haletop under or fronting the multi-storey car park and a general refurbishment programme improving the entire centre.

It was always envisaged that a second stage of the transformation would foillow but this required the acquisition of a number of key properties on which negotiations wewre inevitably complex and time consuming. All the necessary acquisition, which apart from the Co-op  superstore, include St Modwen’s acquisition of Park Court and Violet Court,  and the former Kwik Save building are now in place, enabling the second stage to be rolled out.

St Modwen  and the City Council are looking at ways to further expand the size of the new Asda store .

Sir Richard Leese, leader of the City Council, said: “This is a hugely important first step to this stage of making a thriving Wythenshawe town centre. The level of investment involved shows that our ambitious masterplan is realistic and deliverable. We want to build on this momentum to ensure the town centre reaches its full potential for the benefit of everyone who lives, works or visits there.”

Allison Darling, Asda’s property communications manager, said: “Our new store will assist in the revitalisation of Wythenshawe and will hopefully also draw in shoppers from surrouding areas, further boosting the area’s economy. We are also, of course, delighted to welcome on board our new colleagues who will transfer from Co-op to Asda.”

Michelle Taylor, regional director of St Modwen, said: “We see the introduction of Asda to Wythenshawe as a major step forward for the town. The scheme will improve the quality of shopping and the profile of Wythenshawe and will greatly assist in drawing custom from the wider south Manchester area.”

The town centre masterplan envisages a total investment in Wythenshawe of up to £130 million over the next ten years. The vast majority of this will come from the private sector.

Other proposals in the first phase of the second stage, which runs until 2009, include the creation of a new bus station with better links to the shopping centre, improved shopping and the creation of a new leisure facility between Wythenshawe Forum and The Birtles.

St Modwen in conjunction with the council, is currently drawing up plans for a development on the site of the Park Court and Violet Court tower blocks whcih are scheduled to be demolished in the New Year. This will include more retail and office space. Plans are also being drawn up for the former Kwik Save store which closed in May.

In the longer term there are also plans for a town centre hotel and modern office space to tap into increased demand caused by the growth of nearby Manchester International Airport.

For further information contact Michelle Taylor of St Modwen (01925 825950).  Issued by Paul Raymer of Howle Chapman Raymer (0121 236 7771)