Click above for what became the consented plan, plus Transport page.


2019: "The US is on the edge of the economic precipice – Trump may push it over"

Link to The Guardian

"... After the 1929 crash, the government invented new ways to boost the wages of most Americans – social security, unemployment insurance, overtime pay, a minimum wage, the requirement that employers bargain with labor unions, and, finally, a full-employment program called the second world war.

"By contrast, after the 2007 crash the government bailed out the banks and pumped enough money into the economy to stop the slide. But apart from the Affordable Care Act, nothing was done to address the underlying problem of stagnant wages.

"Ten years after the start of the Great Recession, we face another economic precipice."


Nothing from Santa for Hammerson: "Ghosts of Christmas past come to haunt the Whitgift Centre"

Link to 'Inside Croydon'

"... I cross over North End from Whitgift to have a look at Centrale, the slightly more upmarket (I feel I am damning with faint praise here) sister shopping centre (this wholly-owned by Hammerson, the other half of the 'Croydon Partnership'). This is where, according to the display in the Whitgift, 'many of the existing shops… can move during the redevelopment', so I take a look to see if there is room for such a retail migration. There is room.

"There are more eerily empty spaces in Centrale. The two elves employed to shepherd children into Santa’s grotto chat to each other in front of the optimistically long and totally empty queuing area.

"The surreal world of the commercial estate agent is exposed in the great empty space that links Debenhams to Centrale's main stairwell."


The Guardian: "'Peak stuff', interest rates and a dollop of Brexit have retailers worried". Plus Hammerson worries

"The UK high street is suffering and now even online outlets are feeling the pinch"

Link to web site

"... Reports from retailers for November have been downbeat. Mike Ashley, the founder of Sports Direct, said the start of the Christmas period was 'unbelievably bad'. The monthly report from the payment company Visa found that spending in November was down for a second month. The online clothing firm, Asos sent share prices of the entire UK retail sector lower on Monday when it issued a profits warning after much worse than expected November sales.

"In truth, retailers have been hit by a number of disparate factors simultaneously. Factor number one is that during a period when budgets have been squeezed, consumers have put a higher priority on going out than they have on buying things, leading to speculation that the UK might have reached 'peak stuff'.

"Factor number two is the increased tendency for people to shop online, where the prices tend to be lower and parking is not a problem. Bricks-and-mortar retailers are having a really tough time, with footfall down and costs up."

Just Fancy That

"Shopping centre owner Hammerson has been accused of understating its true debt position through creative accounting. Hammerson has kept its headline loan-to-value (LTV) - the ratio of its debts to its assets - below its self-imposed 40% limit by accounting for its retail outlets business, which includes the popular Bicester Village, in a way that is the most flattering, rather than most appropriate, according to Barclays analyst Paul May." - Sunday Times

"Struggling shopping centre owner Hammerson is attempting to fill empty space by playing the traditional role of department stores, renting out concessions direct to small brands. With House of Fraser, Debenhams and even John Lewis under pressure, the owner of the Bullring in Birmingham and Brent Cross in London is faced with unoccupied property and so is seeking to assemble its own collection of fashion, beauty and food concessions on floors formerly used by department stores." - Sunday Telegraph


BBC: "More than 200 UK shopping centres 'in crisis'"

Link to web site

"More than 200 UK shopping centres are in danger of falling into administration, experts are warning.

The demise of 'major anchor stores' like BHS and Toys R Us and the rise of online shopping has caused a 'downward spiral', analyst Nelson Blackley said.

"Many of the at-risk centres are owned by US private equity firms under deals that will need refinancing.

"... Mr Mead, head of shopping centre asset management at APAM, said:
"The problem is, these centres are run by investors who have a short-term approach and haven't the skill-sets or investments to embrace the kind of changes required. There needs to be a joint venture created with local communities to fix the problem."


The Observer: "Cars or clean air? Cheltenham's Boots Corner becomes the new battleground"

"As air pollution fears rise, Cheltenham 'put people before traffic' and banned cars from part of its centre. But not everyone is happy"

Link to web site

"... The battle of Boots Corner is a quintessentially local issue – a council at odds with residents over changes to road layouts, with an undercurrent of party political tension between a Lib Dem-run authority and a Tory MP. But it is also emblematic of a national and international problem: how to reduce congestion and pollution in town and city centres, and create greener, cleaner and safer environments, while improving the efficiency with which people and goods move from A to B.

"Almost all planners agree the key is persuading people to reduce car use – but that will require a massive change in culture and attitudes alongside tangible improvements to public transport. Some suggest the tension between individual liberty and social benefit is akin to the issue of banning smoking in public places. It is almost unfathomable now that 30 years ago people were permitted to smoke on planes and in cinemas; it may take another generation to change car culture, they say.

" 'More and more towns and cities are considering measures. The data on air quality is so compelling that people will start demanding it,' said James Cleeton of Sustrans, which campaigns to increase walking and cycling. 'We understand people are reluctant to get out of their cars but there are massive positives to them as individuals and to society in general.'"


London Borough of Barnet: Local Cunning Plan: Local Development Scheme (before the next one)

7 Oct: FT: "Landlords struggle to offload billions in UK retail property"

"High street woes prompt rush to reduce exposure to [retail] sector"

Subscribe to FT

"UK landlords are struggling to offload billions of pounds' worth of shopping centres and retail parks, as the crisis in bricks-and-mortar retail ripples into the property sector.

"At least £2.5bn of retail properties are currently being marketed, according to FT data based on information from agents, while some property companies privately place the total available to buy as high as £5bn.

" 'Everything is for sale. Nobody wants to own this stuff,' said one agent in the sector. 'The bid-offer spread between holders' expectations and the prices that buyers are willing to pay is just a chasm.'

"The attempted sales follow a string of high-profile collapses in the retail sector, as chains face up to the shift in consumer spending habits away from the high street.

"House of Fraser, Maplin, Poundworld and Toys R Us have all fallen into administration this year, while chains including Mothercare have closed stores as part of agreements with creditors.

"As consumers move purchases online, physical retail has suffered despite growth in overall sales. Retailers have also had to contend with rising wage and tax bills.

"... Public markets are also pessimistic about the sector. Hammerson, the specialist shopping centre landlord, currently trades at a discount of 40 per cent to the value of its assets, according to Numis Securities."


Inside Croydon: "Newman hails 'key milestone' as CPO begins for Hammerson-Westfield"

Link to web site

"It is six years since the vast supermall and flats scheme was announced, and it is three years since a Government-appointed inspector presided over an inquiry to approve the terms of a Compulsory Purchase Order of a vast swathe of property in Croydon town centre.

"... Few have actually had an opportunity to see the detail of what the developers, under their altered, second iteration of the scheme, intend to impose on the borough's commercial centre. Indeed, only last month it was reported that Peter Cole, Hammerson’s departing director, admitted that detailed designs haven't even yet been started.

"Just what surprises might they have in store? Or will Croydon be lumbered with the world's most expensive pig in a poke?"

Inside Croydon: "Council has contingency plan for ‘blighted’ Hammerson-Westfield scheme"

Link to web site

"Croydon council is readying itself for a ‘hard Crexit’ over a £1.4bn town centre redevelopment, according to industry watchers.

"... The council has even had to draw up contingency plans in case the whole deal collapses."

"... 'We're not stupid,' Croydon Council Leader Jo Negrini is supposed to have said, risking having council-watchers to provide a litany of examples to prove her claim wrong."


Brent Cross 'anchor store': BBC: "Fenwick cuts 408 jobs to modernise"

Link to web site

"[Brent Cross] retailer Fenwick has cut 408 jobs at its department stores across England.

"... The restructuring is in response to a drop in profits, declining sales and a need to modernise.

"A spokeswoman for the company said all department stores were facing 'challenging market conditions' and increased online competition. Declining footfall and 'increasingly competitive price discounting' had been 'exacerbated by a rise in the cost of living', she said.


Property Week: Hammerson may abandon Croydon scheme

By Peter Bill: Fri 3 August 2018

Link to web site

"On 17 May, Westfield shareholders ticked the £18.5bn takeover offer made in December 2017 by French retail giant Unibail-Rodamco. A week earlier I'd asked Croydon council chief executive Jo Negrini if she was worried that the coming surrender of Westfield to the French might further delay the £1.4bn Whitgift Centre, five years in the planning by Westfield and Hammerson. I’ll return to her response later.

"In 2013, the pair promised an opening date of 2017-18. It was a time when Westfield was king of retail development and Hammerson was queen. A time when it was unimaginable that Westfield founder Frank Lowy would cede power to the French. Or that Hammerson would shelve a decade-long plan for a £1.4bn extension to Brent Cross – as it did last week.

"The Westfield/Hammerson joint venture holds, for now, under the Croydon Partnership banner, with an added Unibail patch. Work is promised to start next year. On 3 1 May, John Lewis and Waitrose became anchor tenants. Hammerson chief investment officer Peter Cole said: “Over the coming months, we are looking to make further progress with the land assembly process ahead of commencing [my italics] detailed design.”

Inside Croydon:
"Council has contingency plan for ‘blighted’ Westfield [and Hammerson] scheme"


NW2 Residents Association: "Brent Cross expansion on hold"

Link to web site

"Hammerson announced the expansion of Brent Cross shopping centre was on hold. It's not obvious what this means for us, especially now that Brent Cross Cricklewood's been divided into three parts."

Brent Cross London
"Brent Cross London is Hammerson's part."

Brent Cross South
"Brent Cross South is Argent Related's part, south of the North Circular and east of the railway line."

Brent Cross Thameslink
"Brent Cross Thameslink is Barnet Council's part, mainly the stretch between the Edgware Road and the railway line."


Reuters: "Hammerson overhaul plan fails to quell investor worries over strategy"

Link to web site

"LONDON (27 July: Reuters) - Hammerson's (HMSO.L) plan to offload property assets and buy back shares has failed to assuage investor unease over the British shopping center owner’s strategy following its decision to spurn a 5 billion-pound ($6.6 billion) takeover by rival Klepierre (LOIM.PA) earlier this year.

"The property group on Tuesday said it would sell 1.1 billion pounds of assets, including its 13 out-of-town retail parks, by the end of 2019, buy back up to 300 million pounds of shares, and save at least 7 million pounds of costs a year.

"But two large shareholders in Hammerson told Reuters on Friday that they did not believe the overhaul proposed by the owner of Birmingham’s Bullring shopping center would be enough to lift its share price close to 635 pence, which was the level of French firm Klepierre’s final unsuccessful cash-and-paper bid for the London-listed group."

Evening Standard: "BMO’s man fries 'Bay of Pigs' Hammerson boss David Atkins on struggles"

David Atkins and the rest of the Hammerson board

"Marcus Phayre-Mudge, a fund manager at BMO Global Asset Management, probably won’t be on the Christmas card list of Hammerson boss David Atkins, after attacking the property company's valuations in the analyst presentation at its strategy update this week.

" 'You are right in the middle of a massive storm here and it is not helpful to play down he impact on the market... I think it is time for you guys to be open with your shareholders and say it is going to be very difficult,' said Phayre-Mudge. A bristling Atkins assured him: 'you'll be pleased with the sale prices' of some of the assets on the block.

"But the fund manager had the final word, comparing Hammerson’s failed merger with Intu to the CIA's disastrously botched Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961. Nice.

"Atkins isn't worried about his job. 'I'm very confident I'll still be talking to you for many years to come,' he tells Spy, in what could be 2018's top hostage to fortune so far."

Evening Standard: City Spy, Thursday 26 July

Barnet Times: Barnet's Hammerson debacle at Brent Cross


Hammerson's Brent Cross swamp: Labour steps in

Link to web site

"Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden Andrew Dismore AM has written to the Leader of Barnet Council Cllr Richard Cornelius with a series of questions after the plan to expand Brent Cross Shopping Centre was delayed by the developer, Hammerson.

"Mr Dismore said:
"It is vital that Barnet Council get a grip on what this will mean for them, the wider scheme and for the local community. Brent Cross is the biggest regeneration scheme in the borough, and the Council’s finances are dependent on the Council Tax and Business Rate revenues projected from it. If there are real problems with Brexit next year, the delay could be for years, if not lead to the termination of the project altogether."

"Childs Hill Councillor Anne Clarke said:
"I would like to know what the best possible outcome is for residents, who are already unhappy about the lack of involvement in the process, and the prospect of years of misery with vehicle movements, roadworks, traffic and pollution. Also, what are the long-term plans for the waste transfer site [,along] with [the] aggregate [site] and Donoghue? Residents need answers on these pretty quickly."


Inside Croydon: "Brent Cross takes a £1.4bn hit as Hammerson signals a go-slow"

Link to web site

"High Street closures and Brexit uncertainties mean that retail landlord Hammerson is getting cold feet over redevelopment schemes for its shopping centres around the capital.

"Hammerson has shelved its plans for the £1.4billion redevelopment of its Brent Cross shopping centre, and doesn't seem in any great hurry to pursue the regeneration of Croydon town centre, including its own Centrale mall.

"The multi-billion property company released its half-year report to the Stock Exchange yesterday, and made it plain that what one newspaper called 'the nightmare climate engulfing UK retailer'” is making it take a very long, hard look at how the business spends its development cash."

"Financial Times predicts Hammerson will sell stake in Croydon"

The Guardian: "Hammerson's grand self-assessment isn't shared by its investors"

"Following the Intu humiliation the company’s CEO breezed on as if nothing had happened"

Link to web site

"A note of humility would have been order from Hammerson's board after the humiliation of the non-takeover of shopping centre rival Intu, a £3.4bn deal that had to be abandoned because the group's own shareholders were in revolt. Instead, chief executive David Atkins & co breezed on as if nothing had happened. Hammerson is a 'best-in-class' and 'dynamic' property company, apparently, and is now adopting a 'decisive' strategy of flogging all its out-of-town retail parks.

"... Shrinking the presence of department stores within the shopping centres by 25% sounds like a case of following retailing trends that are happening anyway. Meanwhile, a planned extension to the Brent Cross centre in north London is being put on hold, which is presumably an example of the board sitting decisively on its hands, or being encouraged to do so by development partner Aberdeen Standard Investments."

Evening Standard: "Investors could push for Hammerson's break-up, says Russell Lynch"

Link to web site

"Hammerson boss David Atkins went shopping at Brent Cross with his mum when the centre first opened in 1976, but the chances are that he'll be pushing 60 before the extension to north London’s shopping hub is finally open.

"The 52-year old's decision to 'defer' the £1.4 billion project looks like good sense in the current climate of caterwauling retailers, administrations and rent-slashing CVAs but investors will be looking askance at the rest of the strategy he unveiled today.

"Let's not forget Atkins had some work to do here after one of the most humiliating corporate retreats in recent times, when it abandoned its planned merger with Intu and even told its shareholders to vote against a deal it was proclaiming from the rooftops just weeks earlier."


The whole squalid plan comes crashing down! Evening Standard: "Retail woes force Hammerson to halt Brent Cross expansion"

Link to web site

"The nightmare climate engulfing UK retailers on Tuesday forced property giant Hammerson to put on ice its £1.4 billion plans to extend north London’s vast Brent Cross shopping centre.

"The plans to enhance the centre — which opened in 1976 and has around 15 million visitors a year — have been in the pipeline for over a decade but have been put on hold by the company, which owns Brent Cross with Standard Life.

"The decision comes after an annus horribilis for retailers including the failure of chains like Maplin and Toys'R'Us and desperate moves by players such as House of Fraser to slash their rental bills through so-called creditor voluntary arrangements, hitting landlords in the pocket. Costs have also been rising due to soaring business rates and the national living wage increases."


John Lewis backs out of original plan for a completely new store at Brent Cross - so now it's refurbishment of the current store only


"Hammerson and Aberdeen Standard Investments, joint owners of Brent Cross, have signed a new agreement for lease with John Lewis to transform its department store as part of the £1.4bn Brent Cross redevelopment and refurbishment in North London.

"Having been present in Brent Cross since the centre opened in 1976 – the first 'US style mall in the UK' – the department store will undergo a full refurbishment as part of the plans and Brent Cross will remain open as usual throughout the development programme.

"The new store will include an enhanced retail layout to create a more contemporary shopping experience for customers and showcase its latest shop design. It will benefit from direct access to a brand new 1,450 space car park, which will also support the brand's growing click and collect offer."

Or you could go to John Lewis White City.

The Guardian: "Skyscrapers wreck cities – yet still Britain builds them"

"Around 500 towers are proposed for London. They're not just ugly: they symbolise Britain's greedy pandering to developers"

Link to web site

I love towers and hate towers. I love those of Siena and San Gimignano and the skyscraper clusters of Manhattan and Dubai. I admire the design of London’s Canary Wharf, and of the Shard, if only it had not been dumped on Bermondsey. I do not love the ugliness now being scattered at random along the banks of the Thames or the squalor of London's skyline. As art historian Vince Scully said of New York, he once 'entered the city like a god; now one scuttles in like a rat'.

"We have seen nothing yet. The latest survey from New London Architecture, the only body monitoring the city’s towerscape, is nothing short of sensational. At the turn of the century, the metropolis had some 30 towers over 20 storeys. Two years ago 115 were planned or under construction. Now, according to NLA, a staggering 510 are proposed. No plan for this proliferation has ever been published.

"No mayor has ever put it to the voters. Unlike any other European country, skyscrapers can go up wherever developers want, provided only that they do not spoil a view of St Paul's Cathedral. It is 'wild west' planning."

Greengauge21 report: "Beyond HS2"


Barnet news: Irish Independent: "Capita rehabilitation slow as outsourcing tarnished"

Link to web site

"We don't hear much these days about 'outsourcing' which may be no bad thing. The great Bill Gates summed up my idea of what outsourcing meant when he said that if you rely too much on other people and other countries you risk outsourcing your brain. An American novelist Tom Robbins caught the mood when he cynically quipped that he intended to outsource his next book to a couple of blokes in Bangalore.

"Nevertheless, 30 and more years ago, especially in Britain, it was all the go and it has taken until now to see the chickens coming home to roost, as Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) have begun to creak.

"The collapse of British government contractor Carillion has been a particularly spectacular failure."


The Committee on Standards in Public Life: "The Continuing Importance of Ethical Standards for Public Service Providers." And they even talked to Barnet-Capita.

Barnet-Capita 'contributors':

Chief Executive,
Commercial Director,
Deputy Chief Executive and Commissioning Director for Growth and Development,
Interim Assurance Director,
Monitoring Officer,
Interim Chief Operating Officer.


The Guardian: "Social housing funding system is 'nuts', says top property developer"

Link to web site

"One of the country's top property developers has described the UK's system of funding social housing as 'nuts' and called for higher taxes to speed up building.

Roger Madelin, a member of the executive committee at British Land, told the Guardian the decades-old system of getting private developers to pay for affordable homes was 'a stupid way of meeting this social need' and that the government should directly fund them.

" 'All companies should pay higher corporation tax,' he said. 'This country needs to have more tax paid. If we did it like that we could get on and do it. It can’t work in the long term, you can't expect developers to continue to produce for the population's social needs at this level. It should come from general taxation'."


Railway & Canal Historical Society: "The London Aircraft Production Group"

Society LINK

TED: "The biggest risks facing cities - and some solutions"

"With fantastic new maps that show interactive, visual representations of urban fragility, Robert Muggah articulates an ancient but resurging idea: cities shouldn't just be the center of economics - they should also be the foundation of our political lives.

"Looking around the world, from Syria to Singapore to Seoul and beyond, Muggah submits six principles for how we can build more resilient cities. 'Cities are where the future happens first. They're open, creative, dynamic, democratic, cosmopolitan, sexy,' Muggah says. 'They're the perfect antidote to reactionary nationalism."


FT: Stocks to Watch: Tuesday 1 May, 13.00 BST: Hammerson is a bit iffy

"Exane BNP Paribas cut Intu Properties to 'underperform' and downgraded Hammerson to 'neutral', moving from 'outperform' in both cases on valuation grounds.
“On our forecasts, the bulk of Hammerson's assets offer prospective returns below the cost of capital. Moreover, risk-adjusted returns on share buybacks appear far superior to major development projects at Brent Cross and Croydon. However capacity for a capital return is limited unless the company commits to a transformational disposal strategy.” 

(Complete item from FT is above}


Planning Inspectorate: "The Local Plan examination process and the role the Planning Inspectorate plays" (apparently)

"The Planning Inspectorate maintains a list of how local planning authorities across England are progressing their local plans:
"The information is updated as examinations of plans are completed and local authorities inform the Planning Inspectorate that they have subsequently been published and adopted."



The Motley Fool: Hammerson? SELL, SELL, SELL!

Link to web site

"With its 5% dividend yield, retail-focused real estate investment trust Hammerson(LSE: HMSO) looks like a perfect income investment at first glance. However, in my opinion, the outlook for this business is shrouded in uncertainty.

"... These numbers do not give me much confidence in Hammerson's outlook, which is why I believe it could be time to dump the REIT."


BanprivatecarsinLondon: "Barcelona the walking city"

Link to web site

"... Ildefons Cerda was the visionary, pioneering Catalan urban planner whose street layout is characterised by long straight streets, a strict grid pattern crossed by wide avenues, and octagonal city blocks. Cerdà, considered traffic and transport along with sunlight and ventilation in coming up with his characteristic octagonal blocks. I was told that the street design was to have facilitated a tram network.

"The core idea was that the city should breathe and the growing population could be spread out equally, as well as providing green spaces within each block.

"Unfortunately Cerdà had not anticipated that the streets would become polluted and congested with cars and motorcycles. The wide avenues became one way motor traffic dominated speed drags. Random parking of motorcycles and cars blocked the safe passage of pedestrians and cyclists.

"Barcelona has been working hard to reverse this trend for the last ten years, improving pedestrian spaces, making walking a desirable and healthy alternative to car use. The metro is well-designed and intuitive and is undergoing expansion. There is also a well-connected train and bus network.

"The next phase is the so called Superilles or 'Superblocks' which aims to make secondary streets into 'citizen spaces for culture, leisure and the community'. In such a densely populated city with a notable absence of green space, this will create vital greening, as well as quality public space."


Barnet's Audit Committee: "Capita contracts are a shambles"

Mill Hill Councillor, Sury Khatri made a farewell speech at the Barnet Council Audit Committee:
"My time as a councillor has been overshadowed by the disastrous Capita contract. It is falling apart at the seams."


[Reposted and expanded] Barnet gives planning permission for 5-storey building for this site, on the same planning application as a new John Lewis at Brent Cross, a MILE away! (The Banality of Corruption)

Link to 'Wembley Matters' web site

Agreement dated 30th January 1987 between Mayor of Barnet, Mayor of Brent, Charterhall Properties (Cricklewood) Ltd, and Erith Plc states:
The description of development refers to provision of 'new public conveniences, public footpaths, and area of public open space'.

Public Open Space is defined as 'the creation of a public open space on that part of the site show coloured yellow on the Plan, such open space to make substantial provision for tree and shrub planting within it and to be attractively landscaped and laid out to the satisfaction of the Council'.

Paragraph 4 b(iv) refers to the Council adopting the public open space after a defects period of 12 months, 'and thereupon the Public Open Space shall become a public open space maintainable at the public expense'.

Paragraphs 4 (d) and (e) refer to not building on the land with the sewer and accepting the strips of land with public footpaths respectively."

(2014 update: Next to the road has since been improved -
the rest of the land is still under threat)
Pic: Theo Simpson

Link to HOME (see all posts).

Useless Hammerson management gets intu trouble: Daily Telegraph: "Hammerson ditches £3.4bn Intu takeover blaming high street slowdown"

Link to web site

"... David Atkins, Hammerson's chief executive, said: 'It is clear that the heightened risks to the Intu acquisition now outweigh the longer-term benefits.'

"Intu said it 'regards as unsatisfactory the explanations given by the Board of Hammerson for its withdrawal of its recommendation of the transaction... which Intu has been pursuing in good faith since its announcement on 6 December 2017.'

"Hammerson had faced a separate takeover approach from French rival Klépierre but the suitor said it had abandoned the plan last week after the UK firm's board failed to 'provide any meaningful engagement' with the proposed £5bn deal."