Bradman in £450m comeback

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The Independent Online
Godfrey Bradman, conservationist, health fanatic and Prince Charles's favourite property developer, is back with a £450m scheme, three years after bowing out of Rosehaugh, one of the property slump's highest-profile failures.

John Gummer, Environment Secretary, welcomed Mr Bradman back to the fold this week with the announcement that he had decided not to scrutinise proposals for a 35-acre shopping, leisure and residential development in west London.

The project has already received the go-ahead from Hammersmith and Fulham, so Mr Gummer's decision gives the green light to one of London's biggest retail projects since the Brent Cross shopping centre.

The scheme will include 620,000 square feet of shopping, including a food superstore, and 70 low-cost flats.

Mr Bradman, best-known for his half-share in the Broadgate office complex in the City, said: "This is good news for Shepherd's Bush. The benefits are many - 2,500 new local jobs, training initiatives, new shopping and leisure provision, enhanced public transport and pedestrian and cycle links, new homes and the upgrading of Shepherd's Bush town centre."

Like the Broadgate development, the White City scheme is an important piece of urban regeneration in an area of considerable blight, an industrial wasteland by the side of the M41 spur road.

Not only does it mark the return of one of the property industry's best- known figures, it confirms Mr Gummer's determination to promote town centre developments to stem the movement of shoppers to out-of-town schemes.

As a speculative development, it is also one of the biggest votes of confidence of the business cycle in the strength of the commercial property market.

Details are still being negotiated, but funding is likely to come from Scottish Amicable, Mr Bradman's partner in the consortium.

The group still needs to tie up ownership of the site, which is half- owned by BICC and Railtrack, which had planned a rival scheme. But David Hunter of ScotAm said he was confident that building, which could take two or three years, would start at the beginning of next year.

The plans envisage new tennis courts and other facilities for the Vanderbilt Racquet Club, a former haunt of Princess Diana that is located on the site and is a member of the consortium.

The son of a Willesden shopkeeper, Mr Bradman left school at 15 and qualified as an accountant. He moved into tax work and spotted loopholes that saved clients millions. He went into property in 1978 by buying Rosehaugh, but stood down as chief executive at the beginning of 1992 when the company reported pre-tax losses of £226m, a year before finally calling in receivers. In 1987 the Bradman family stake was said to be worth £44m. In the Eighties Mr Bradman became increasingly involved in big social campaigns including anti-abortion.