“Due to increased risks in the current market environment, the start on site of the development at Brent Cross is to be deferred”, Hammerson said today. It insisted that it remains committed to the project but gave no indication how long this deferral might last.
“By reprioritising our capital deployment and repositioning our portfolio, we will accelerate future shareholder value and returns," said chief executive David Atkins.
Laing O’Rourke was appointed in October 2017 under a pre-construction services agreement as part of a two stage tender process for the £700m main construction works. The expectation had been that work would start on site in July 2018. Start of work was then put back to January 2019. Today's announcement gives no indication of start date.
The plans include doubling the size of the existing shopping centre to two million sq ft of retail and leisure space. This will include up to 150 new shops, with John Lewis as anchor, and 50 new restaurants, plus a cinema, a hotel and a new town square.
The plans also include a relocated and enlarged bus station as well as improved transport and highways infrastructure. Hochtief Graham was signed up for the highway works.
The reserved matters planning application was approved October 2017 and the compulsory purchase order was confirmed in December 2017. Both are now free from challenge.
"Whilst we have decided to defer the start on site of the scheme, it remains an important strategic project and we continue to recognise its role as one of London's leading retail destinations," Hammerson said today. "It also forms part of the wider Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration plans encompassing improved road and rail infrastructure and significant residential development and we remain engaged with retailers and stakeholders towards the future delivery of the scheme."