Resilient Meadowhall plans big expansion at out-of-town site

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SHOPPING centre Meadowhall is to apply for planning permission for a 70,000 sq ft extension to the Sheffield site.

The extension could help turn Meadowhall into one of the UK’s top five shopping destinations.

Part owner British Land said it is preparing planning submission for a retail development on land adjoining Meadowhall.

No tenants have been confirmed yet, although Swedish furniture giant IKEA has expressed an interest in becoming a key retailer at the new site.

Meadowhall currently has 10 anchor stores, including Debenhams and House of Fraser.

The centre has proved remarkably resilient during the downturn as shoppers ditch the high street for out-of-town centres.

A number of retailers are keen to get a foothold in the centre and it recently signed up Urban Outfitters.

The news of the extension came amid reports that British Land has put half of its 50 per cent stake in Meadowhall up for sale.

Retaining half its stake would allow British Land to retain management of the centre.

That would mean a three-quarters stake in the mall is now up for grabs as the other 50 per cent of Meadowhall is already being sold by London & Stamford.

The 21 year-old shopping centre is valued at £1.42bn.

The company’s chief executive Chris Grigg declined to comment on the group’s intentions.

Peel Hunt analyst James Carswell said: “It’s a good opportunity as Meadowhall has performed well.”

Investors with the cash to buy into such large projects include Singapore investors and Malaysian and Canadian pension funds.

Meadowhall was part of the first wave of UK mega-malls built in the 1990s.

British Land bought Meadowhall in 1999 for £1.17bn and sold a 50 per cent stake to London & Stamford and a Middle Eastern partner for £588m in 2009.

Large UK shopping centres that dominate their catchment area like Meadowhall are highly prized by property investors as they have managed to weather the downturn.