British Land embarks on small town shopping spree

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The Independent Online

Listed property company British Land is stepping up its retail exposure by buying a Barnstaple shopping centre and a retail development site in Luton, and by bidding for a £150m stake in a scheme in Bath.

The move into investing in smaller towns and cities flies in the face of research that warns many smaller retail areas will suffer.

British Land is confident investing in retail in some smaller towns and cities will still produce growth. It bought Drakes Circus shopping centre in Plymouth last month.

It is in talks to pay around £35m for the Green Lanes shopping centre in Barnstaple and has agreed a deal to pay £10m for a 20-acre retail development site in central Luton from Irish developer Ballymore.

It is also head to head with rival Land Securities and pension fund Oxford Properties to buy a 50 per cent stake in Southgate centre, Bath.

Anthony Havelock, a partner at property agent Knight Frank, said: "So far the year has started slowly compared to a bumper three months at the end of last year. Volumes will improve and there are still large amounts of available capital willing to invest in shopping centres, they are just waiting for the right stock."

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