Retail Property - Prescott gives thumbs up to Minerva's project in Croydon

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has cleared Minerva's planning application to build one of the UK's largest town centre shopping developments at Park Place in Croydon, south London.

The 93,000 sq m development will include 103 shops, 13 large stores, 17 restaurants and a flagship department store opening on to a new town square opposite the Grants leisure development.

Last month, Minerva completed its acquisition of the Allders department store chain. Allders had been lined up as the anchor tenant for the new scheme, relocating 100 metres south from its flagship site in the Whitgift Centre.

Minerva's latest announcement fails to identify Allders as anchor tenant, fuelling speculation that Minerva is looking for a stronger anchor for the new scheme, possibly John Lewis.

Compulsory purchase orders will be required to complete the site acquisition, but analysts believe the scheme could start on-site in 2005. This would imply a completion date for the first phase in 2008 or 2009.

Minerva chief executive Andrew Rosenfeld said: 'We welcome the Government's decision to effectively approve the development of Park Place and we are looking forward to making a major contribution to Croydon's regeneration and to London's economy through this£500 million shopping centre development.

'Park Place will be one of London's largest urban regeneration projects and will elevate Croydon to one of the top retail destinations in the UK.'