Colliers: The Rock is the biggest in 2010

The North West has been the most active for shopping centre development and opened the largest scheme in the UK in 2010, according to new research.

The Colliers International Shopping Centre Development Pipeline research said The Rock in Bury was the biggest project to open in the UK and Ireland this year, ahead of Eldon Square in Newcastle.

The 620,000 sq ft retail and leisure development opened on 16 July this year and was being developed by Thornfield Properties before Hammerson took over the scheme at the beginning of 2010 after Thornfield fell into administration.

Marks & Spencer and Debenhams anchor the scheme which was 84% let by floorspace when it opened, Colliers said.

The research added that the development contributed significantly to the region seeing the greatest amount of new shopping centre floorspace completed in 2010.

Colliers said the 200,000 sq ft extension to The Mall in Blackburn and smaller openings of the Windmill Centre in Widnes and The Avenue, Manchester, meant the region still had the largest amount of shopping centre floorspace in the pipeline at over 5.6m sq ft.

The research said 1.1m sq ft of this is attributable to Lend Lease's £700m Tithebarn project in Preston, which went to a public inquiry in May and a decision on whether to grant planning permission will be made on or before 24 November this year.

Colliers praised the region for having the largest planning application in the UK. Peel submitted its plans for a £5.5bn regeneration of 148 acres of Liverpool docks, to be known as Liverpool Waters, in October. The 14m sq ft mixed use development proposes 9,000 homes and a cruise terminal. Colliers said the retail element is thought to make up about 5% of the floorspace.

Wirral Council also approved the East Float part of Peel's sister project, the £4.5bn Wirral Waters at Birkenhead Docks, in August and the Secretary of State is currently deciding whether to call in the project.

If given the green light, Wirral Waters will provide 15m sq ft of mixed use space including 13,500 homes and 645,000 sq ft of retail accommodation.

Colliers said despite dramatic reports of a complete drying up of the development pipeline and fears of a earth of new good quality floorspace coming on line over the next few years, the amount of shopping centre completions in the UK has held up well over the past 12 months.

In 2009, 2.8m sq ft of new shopping centre floorspace was completed in the UK and this figure has dropped only marginally in 2010 to almost 2.5m sq ft.

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