A dispute between Westfield and a group of retailers including Debenhams, Marks & Spencer and Boots over service charge levels is ongoing despite indications from the Australian developer that a reduction was imminent.
Tensions first arose last November when retailers’ service charge bills at Westfield London were increased to levels significantly higher than was originally agreed in leases.
Some retailers were hit with rates of up to £14 per sq ft after having been quoted £8 per sq ft.
A meeting took place last week between Westfield and service charge specialist Profile Consultancy - which is representing 23 retailers in the developer’s West London scheme – in which it had been hoped that a new level of service charge could be agreed.
But a decision from the developer has now been delayed and a further meeting arranged to take place next week.
Profile Consultancy managing director David Howell said that he was “frustrated” that an agreement was not reached at last Wednesday’s meeting but that “good progress was still being made”.
Both parties had wanted the dispute to be resolved by the end of May but where individual retailers do not agree to a revised figure from Westfield these cases are likely to go to a third party expert such as a lawyer or chartered surveyor for determination.
A source close to the discussions said that next week’s meeting was a “last chance saloon” before third party experts were called in to determine certain cases. The source said: “The problem is that there will be a reduction but it will satisfy some and not others. It’s going to be difficult.”