Longmartin scheme to bring in fresh retailers

Developer Shaftesbury has won permission to spice up 2 acres of derelict buildings close toLondon’sLeicester Squarewith a retail and restaurant scheme.

Shaftesbury – the company behind the regeneration ofLondon’s famousCarnaby Streetand Seven Dials – has dubbed the scheme Longmartin. It is situated between Long Acre,Upper St Martin’s Lane andMercer Streetand will have a phased opening for completion by the end of 2009.

The scheme will create abbout 85,000 sq ft (7,895 sq m) of retail split into 30 shops set around a piazza. Longmartin will also bring in restaurants, residential apartments and offices. New public thoroughfares will also be created, linking the courtyard with other retail destinations.

“We won’t be bringing in the standard high street retailer to the scheme as the area is already well serviced with mainstream retailers,” said Shaftesbury director Simon Quayle. “We want the scheme to have a very strong character so while it is unlikely to be the same as eitherCarnaby Streetor Seven Dials, it will still have a unique quality and become a destination in its own right.”

The retail is likely to focus on womenswear, accessories and health and beauty-type offers such as walk-in spa centres. Quayle said: “We haven’t finalised what we want in terms of retail, but we believe there is a gap in the market for the pampering type of retail and beauty treatments.”

Quayle said Longmartin will add something different toCovent Garden. “CapCo is redeveloping theCovent Gardenpiazza and bringing Londoners back to the area and we want to build on that and offer something complementary,” he said. “Covent Gardenis under serviced in terms of restaurants so we need to add those too in order to make sure shoppers can stay and relax and enjoy the surroundings.”

Construction starts this year and the site takes in an NCP car park and two derelict buildings. The land is valued at£150 million and is owned by a joint venture between Shaftesbury and The Mercers Company.

Shaftesbury took a long-term outlook onCarnaby Streetand nursed it back to health after it had floundered for many years. Instead of signing up high street retailers it took lower rents to pull in independent or edgy retailers to create a high fashion trend-setting destination.