The coronavirus has had a particularly profound effect on the UK and it remains one of the worst affected areas in the world. However the country remains resilient and is continuing to look forward with its shopping centre development pipeline. Here, RLI takes a look at a selection of projects that are already situated, or due to be completed across the UK and Ireland.

Continued easing of lockdown has seen the retail and leisure industries embrace reopening to the public with social distancing measures in place, but of course it has been a difficult year to date.

2020 started the year with a healthy level of leasing activity across the Big 6 (Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester) during Q1 but, not surprisingly, this was followed by a subdued Q2, as the Covid-19 pandemic impacted on occupational activity across all markets. With the property market effectively shut down, occupiers were unable or reluctant to make significant real estate decisions.

According to JLL’s ‘The Big 6 Report H1 2020, while investment was very low in recent months, there has been a notable uptick in market activity in recent weeks, giving cause for optimism that investment will increase in the second half of the year, as restrictions are eased and confidence returns. There is already evidence of transactions from before lockdown which have resumed, as well as new transactions originated more recently. The UK maintains its global appeal for a number of reasons – attractive pricing, high levels of liquidity, consistently strong occupational markets, and its reputation as a hub of innovation and talent and this can be seen in the selection of projects to follow.

Projects across the UK & Ireland

London, UK
Owners: British Land & GIC

Broadgate is a 32-acre central London neighbourhood and a diverse community where innovation meets finance and a public arena for new food, retail and culture. Joint owners British Land and GIC are investing £1.5bn in Broadgate’s ongoing evolution into a world class, mixed use destination for London. Their masterplan for Broadgate will deliver 4.9 million square feet of new and redefined workplaces, retail and restaurants, bringing people together to work, shop, drink and dine. Broadgate’s rare collection of public spaces combines the community and feel of the historic piazza with the energy of modern London. These spaces play host to over 100 cultural events annually, providing a showcase for emerging ideas and talent. Earlier this year they signed up the UK’s first John Reed gym and six new retailers at 100 Liverpool Street. Further retailers to commit to 100 Liverpool Street include Tommy Hilfiger, the premium American clothing brand; British jeweller Monica Vinader; skincare, beauty and cosmetics brand L’Occitane and footwear retailer, Dune London. Luxury beauty retailer Space NK and International British fashion brand Reiss are returning to Broadgate following the success of their previous stores at 100 Liverpool Street. The 100 Liverpool Street site is a 520,000sq ft redevelopment designed by Hopkins Architects, with a focus on technology, sustainability and wellbeing.

The multi-billion pound transformation of Wembley Park by developers Quintain will see a premier creative neighbourhood made for London. It is one of the largest and most all-embracing urban development’s currently underway in Europe. Projected to attract over 20 million visitors a year, Wembley Park will benefit from £328M annual retail spend by 2027, putting it ahead of London districts such as Camden, Victoria and Ealing Broadway. Surrounding the world-famous national stadium, Wembley Park’s transformation reflects its legendary past and strong cultural heritage where many of the world’s greatest musicians, entertainers and sportspeople have played. Wembley Park will offer an appealing spectrum of retail, dining and leisure choices for the millions of people who live in, work in and visit the area.

Sheffield, UK
Developers: Sheffield City Council & Queensberry

Heart of the City II is delivering Sheffield city centre its long-awaited commercial, leisure, retail and residential focal point. Building on the success of the original Heart of the City project, the current 1.5 million square feet development will transform this area of the city centre into a dynamic mixed-use district that will help attract more jobs and investment, and ultimately, make Sheffield an even more rewarding place to live and work. Sheffield City Council and its strategic development partner, Queensberry, are now delivering this vision, which includes proposals for premium retail brands, Grade-A offices, restaurants and bars, entertainment venues, urban living, boutique hotels and attractive public spaces. Rather than creating brand new streets from scratch, the scheme follows the site’s existing street patterns, helping to better integrate and complement other shopping districts such as The Moor, Fargate, Barker’s Pool and the Devonshire Quarter. It also allows the Council to retain much of the city’s heritage, including the retention of the key frontages along Pinstone Street and Cambridge Street, plus the restoration of the historic, Grade II* Listed Leah’s Yard. Heart of the City II is expected to create around 500 construction jobs and the scheme should support between 5,500 and 7,000 jobs once completed.

London, UK
Owner: LabTech

Hawley Wharf is not only 200+ luxury apartments in the heart of Camden, it is also 150 stores and over 60 new places to eat and drink, a cutting-edge gym and co-working space. It’s the new place-to-be for ambitious students and young professionals who want to enjoy the best of London. Global real estate advisor CBRE has been appointed by LabTech, the owner of Camden Market, to lease the retail units at the 580,000sq ft Hawley Wharf Development in Camden. There are also plans in place top open the largest farmer’s market in North London, a 12,000sq ft fitness concept, unique canal-view rooftop bars and restaurants, and 100 food stalls, while a 24,000sq ft triple height basement will provide an opportunity for a new entertainment and leisure space. There will also be 195 apartments and 60,000sq ft of LABS co-working space.

Earlier this year the Harris Partnership celebrated the completion of Rushden Lakes and Gardens, a major retail and leisure scheme in Northamptonshire, covering 450,000sq ft, with the latest phases, on which they worked, totalling 210,000sq ft of new space in the West Terrace, Garden Square and East Terrace areas. Working on behalf of client, LXB Properties and The Crown Estate, this marked a major new build mixed-use leisure led development adjacent to the Rushden Lakes retail development that includes a 14-screen Cineworld cinema, leisure facilities with more than 40 retailers, as well as a variety of restaurants and cafés with stunning lakeside views, alongside a pedestrianised boardwalk which runs the length of the shoreline. The first of its kind in the UK, Rushden Lakes brings together the very best in retail, leisure and dining within the unique setting of over 200 acres of protected Nene Wetlands nature reserve and situated beside stunning lakes.

Barnsley, UK
Developers: Barnsley Council & Queensberry

The Glass Works – the £180M retail and leisure scheme led by Barnsley Council alongside development manager Queensberry – has announced the signing of a major national retailer. TK Maxx has committed to Barnsley by taking a new modern store in the development, which is on schedule for completion next summer. Despite the ongoing fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, the popular high street retailer has signed a 15-year lease and will take a 21,951sq ft, two-floor unit opposite Cineworld – a prime location in the town centre regeneration. Upon completion in summer 2021, The Glass Works will provide a family-led daytime and night-time offer with 25 shops, of which there are 6 larger stores, a 13-screen Cineworld, Superbowl UK and 10 restaurants. This, combined with a new library and community facility, refurbished markets, new public realm and up to 494 space multi story carpark, will transform Barnsley town centre.

Edinburgh St James is one of the most significant city centre transformations currently underway in the UK. A new quarter of the city, it completes the city’s distinctive offer with a stunning new shopping galleria with over 80 new brands, an enticing mix of restaurant and bars, a luxury W Edinburgh, a boutique Everyman Cinema, a Roomzzz Aparthotel, and an unrivalled guest experience providing customers with an enviable events programme in a range of new and attractive public spaces. The £1bn scheme started on site in October 2016, having achieved planning permission in 2009 and will include the development of 1.7 million square feet in the city centre of Edinburgh. Edinburgh St James will include 850,000sq ft of retail space – approximately 85 new stores with the shopping galleria set to open in spring 2021, followed by the new restaurants, leisure, new homes, and apart hotel.

Nottingham, UK
Developer: Conygar

The Island Quarter is an exciting mixed-use development and it is unique, not just for Nottingham but for the Midlands and the UK. The 40-acre site will be totally transformed to bring new homes, grade-A office space, creative market, a lifestyle hotel, retail units, a ‘linear’ park and community space as well as student accommodation to the city. The development is a vital part of the regeneration of Nottingham’s Southside and we are working closely with Nottingham City Council to align with its vision for the city. Coming in autumn 2021 will be Phase 1A by developers Conygar and that will focus on regenerating the canal basin area on the south-east corner of the site. The basin will be landscaped out, with a new pavilion and food and beverage outlets created. To be completed in autumn 2022 will be Phase 1B which will comprise of a lifestyle hotel as well co-working space and additional food and beverage outlets.

Wales, UK
Developer: RivingtonHark

The £1bn transformation of Swansea city centre remains on track and an integral part of the ambitious city-wide regeneration, the £135M Swansea Central phase one scheme is a new cultural district encompassing a 3,500-capactiy live performance arena and conference centre, 150-room hotel, a coastal park, striking pedestrian bridge, new homes, office and food and beverage space, allowing the city to realise its potential to become one of the most exciting places in the UK to live, work, visit and study. Phase one by developer RivingtonHark is due to complete in mid-2021 and will be anchored by the multi-functional arena and conference centre, operated by the global leader in live theatre, The Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG). Phase two of the ‘Swansea Central’ transformation is also under-way with an update to the design feasibility being undertaken. It will include further new homes, new office space and retail and leisure space along with additional public realm.

Southampton, UK
Developer: Tellon Capital

Bargate Quarter will uncover Southampton’s proud history, 900 years after the legendary monument was built. The 400,000sq ft project will redefine retail in the heart of Southampton. The scheme will offer a variety of carefully selected retail, food and beverage choices and its stunning centrepiece is one of the finest sections of the city’s historic wall. Creating a vibrant, aspirational hub that celebrates an iconic heritage, while drawing a discerning crowd. The developer of the project is Tellon Capital and the exciting new scheme is expected to open in 2020, with the retail and leisure elements expected to open in 2021.

London, UK
Developer: Battersea Power Station Development Company

Based upon a masterplan that was approved in 2011, the iconic Grade II* listed building and surrounding area of Battersea Power Station that is being developed by Battersea Power Station Development Company is being reimagined as a place for locals, tourists and residents to enjoy a unique blend of restaurants, shops, parks and cultural spaces. This 42-acre, eight-phase regeneration will create hundreds of new shops, restaurants, offices, cultural, venues, homes, a hotel and over 18 acres of public space, including a new six-acre park. The Power Station itself is set to become home to Apple’s new London campus, opening is down for 2021 and the scheme will become of the capital’s top retail and leisure destinations.

Glasgow, Scotland
Developer: Peel L&P

Plans for a new £100M Clydeside retail outlet, including shops, restaurants and a cinema, have been given the green light. Glasgow Harbour Lifestyle Outlet will be developed on land bordered by both the River Clyde and River Kelvin. Planning permission in principle had previously been agreed but the new application included more detail. Developer Peel L&P runs similar outlet schemes such as the Lowry Outlets in Manchester and Gloucester Quays in Gloucester. A planning report said the complex, which is close to the city’s Riverside Museum, was being “promoted as being the opposite of a traditional, enclosed shopping mall”. Previously the developers have said the 350,000sq ft complex would create 2,000 new jobs when completed in 2021 and they estimated it could be worth about £45M a year to the local economy.

London, UK
Developer: Reef Group

Cavendish Square is set to be transformed into a subterranean mixed-use destination in the heart of London’s West End, with an investment in excess of £100M. Located beneath Cavendish Square Gardens, the site is currently an underground car park, but will be redeveloped to create a dynamic mix of retail, medical, wellness and leisure accommodation. The plans from developer Reef Group will see the creation of 280,000sq ft of space across four storeys below ground level. At street level two glazed lanterns will frame a new entrance facing Oxford Street and provide natural light for the floors below. Statement entrances to Harley Street and Regent Street complete the development which will be one of the West End’s largest, with floors of up to 80,000sq ft and floor to ceiling heights of up to 8m. Plans for the scheme, Cavendish Square London, have been submitted to Westminster City Council and, subject to planning approval, construction is expected to start on site in late 2020, with completion in 2022.

London, UK
Developer: The London Resort Company Holdings

London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH) is proposing to develop a world-class, sustainable, next generation entertainment resort known as the ‘London Resort’, on the banks of the River Thames. Their vision is to create a world-class entertainment resort founded on sustainable and low carbon principles. The London Resort will be globally competitive and mark a step-change in leisure and entertainment provision in the UK. The first theme park ‘gate’ will open in 2024 and the second within five years by 2029. The London Resort will have a global profile, attracting visitors from all over the world, generating economic and community benefits for the local area that will reach far into Kent, Thurrock, Essex, London and the UK, supporting job creation, tourism and business growth. LRCH’s three core principles for development of attractions are for them to be innovative, relevant and flexible. What we design today needs to satisfy our visitors in 2024 and beyond, creating a park that can evolve and adapt easily to ensure that it always has fresh appeal to visitors.

Beauty brand Molton Brown is creating seven jobs at the Boulevard with the opening of a pop-up shop in the lead-up to Christmas. The retailer, which sells luxury bath, body and home products, will set up in a 1,075sq ft unit this month, with the option to extend its lease until January. It comes on the back of a strong trading period for the Boulevard since reopening in June, with footfall up by an average of 15 per cent compared to the same time last year. The project, owned by The Lotus Group, invested heavily in the post-Covid-19 environment and successfully executed a clear strategy for welcoming shoppers back to the scheme in a safe and welcoming way.

Central Plaza, a project in Dublin in the Republic of Ireland by developer Hines, is being completed in conjunction with the Peterson Group and leasing agents BNP Paribas Real Estate Ireland. The project is a dynamic new retail hub on Dublin’s favourite north/south shopping route. This has always been one of the city’s livelier pedestrian zones and now people will have a number of reasons to stop and linger. An iconic city plaza and three of the area’s most distinctive buildings are being remodelled to create a new shopping destination that’s full of character – and choice eateries.