Warner Estates' ambitions to become a major player in retail development have received a double boost following a corporate deal with niche developer Bride Hall and a significant planning decision at Preston in Lancashire.
Warner is taking a 25 per cent stake in Bride Hall, founded by developer Danny Desmond, and Bride Hall will become Warner's preferred project manager. As part of the deal, Warner is buying Bride Hall's town centre scheme in Folkestone, Kent.
Consent has recently been granted for a 200,000 sq ft (18,580 sq m), two-level scheme with an 86,000 sq ft (7,990 sq m) Asda store on the first floor above 100,000 sq ft (9,300 sq m) of unit shopping, including a standalone George store.
At the same time, Preston City Council has given the green light to Warner Estates' plans for the redevelopment and extension of the Fishergate Shopping Centre. Planning permission has been granted for a 187,000 sq ft (17,370 sq m) extension, bringing the total floorspace to 540,000 sq ft (50,170 sq m).
Warner, which manages the centre on behalf of the Agora Fund, will refurbish the existing mall to coincide with the extension to provide a combination of large anchor stores and further shop units.
Warner Estates property director Richard Moore said: 'We could always see the potential for this centre and we have worked hard to accelerate its development since we acquired it less than two years ago. In the past, Preston has been overshadowed by Manchester. With this development, Preston will now offer a first-class alternative to its rival.'