Specialist retail developer Milligan will undertake the development of Liverpool's proposed Met Quarter, on the site of the city's old Post Office on Whitechapel.

Milligan has acquired a long-leasehold and the development rights to the scheme from the Walton Group, which worked up a number of multi-level plans for the property.

Local planners have approved Milligan's revised plans for a two-level, open street scheme, which will provide 50 shop units. Walton Group will receive a proportion of Met Quarter's rental income as ground rent.

The Met Quarter, aimed at fashion and homewares retailers, is due to open in spring 2005, three years before Grosvenor's£750 million Paradise Street development, which will provide the city centre with 1.6 million sq ft (148,000 sq m) of retail space.

Milligan chief executive John Milligan said: 'A lot of retailers don't want to wait and want to get in now. There are also retailers that don't like big centres because they get their identity swamped.'

The Met Quarter could cost up to£20 million to construct and be worth£70 million when completed.

Milligan made its debut into the retail property market with the acquisition of Manchester's Triangle shopping centre last year. It is currently seeking sites for new shopping centre-type developments devoted to the home, after a proposed tie-up with German-branded shopping centre operator Stilwerk fell through.

The company, which is backed by Richardson Developments and Joe Kaempfer, the driving force behind MacArthurGlen, is also evaluating a development opportunity in Rome and acquisition of a shopping centre in Barcelona.