Scudders, the specialist demolition contractors, have started work demolishing the central section of the Wembley Central Square Shopping Centre as the first stage in the long-awaited redevelopment of the centre.
Sowcrest Ltd, the joint venture between St Modwen Properties PLC and Rotch Property Group, has finally, after months of detailed negotiations, obtained all the necessary approvals for the work to begin.
The new development will comprise 138,000 sq ft retail and leisure space, 235 residential apartments and a 60-bedroom hotel and/or office uses. It will also unlock the redevelopment of the Wembley Central Station providing a direct access on to the High Road through a new public square.
Occupational interest in the scheme is very strong. Somerfield, which recently closed its Kwik Save store at the centre, has agreed to take a 10,000 sq ft foodstore which will trade under its Market Fresh brand, focusing on fresh food.
Iceland will remain in occupation and will continue to trade through the period of redevelopment. Tote bookmakers have also agreed to take a new unit. Four fashion operators have agreed terms and the relevant transactions are now in solicitors’ hands.
Somewhat unusually, the affordable element of the residential provision is running ahead of the private element. Genesis Housing Group has contracted to purchase the 85 affordable dwellings in the scheme which will comprise a detached block off Station Grove and an additional floor built on top of the old Ramsey House office block.
Planning permisison has been obtained for that office block to be converted for hotel use but office uses are also being considered.
The scheme will be developed in phases, the first being the current demolition. The second phase will be the housing element for Genesis which should be followed shortly by one of the two retail blocks fronting High Road with private residential accommodation above.
The final phase will be the replacement of the block now being demolished with another retail phase with residential accommodation above fronting High Road and the new public square. This phase will also provide for the final station redevelopment.
Whilst Sowcrest has the long leasehold interest necessary for this redevelopment, occupational tenants have to be relocated, by compulsory purchase if necessary, for this element to go ahead which is scheduled for completion in 2008.
Killian Morris, St Modwen’s development surveyor, said: “This scheme is a good example of a truly mixed-use town centre regeneration. We are delighted that we can now proceed with this much needed scheme. We have worked in close partnership with the London Development Agency, Brent Council and Network Rail to overcome the numerous isses that bedevil a scheme of this nature.
“We are building on top of an existing slab over the West Coast main line and local lines and you can imagine that no one can afford to take a risk in getting the engineering details wrong.
“However, the resultant delay which we know frustrated local residents because nothing seemed to happen, is now behind us and we will be pressing ahead just as fast as possible.”
Coun. Ann John, leader of Brent Council, said: “I am delighted that this development is at long last getting underway. It is a key part of the regeneration plans for the area and will bring much needed facilities for local people to Wembley High Road. “It also helps to bring Brent’s ambitious vision for the whole of Wembley yet another step closer.”
For further information contact Killian Morris of St Modwen (020 7499 5666). Issued by Paul Raymer of Howle Chapman Raymer (0121 236 7771).