In a bid to improve the effectiveness of town centre policy, the Government has this month set out proposed revisions to Planning Policy Statement 6: 'Planning for Town Centres' (2005).

Most people in retail property are desperately trying to find ways of describing the current economic climate without using the 'R' word. But McArthurGlen chief executive Julia Calabrese is happy to face it head-on: "We like to feel we're recession proof," she says.

== CSR at a cost to customer service? ==

Last month it was Markham Vaughan Gillingham. This month it's Churston Heard. One would be forgiven for thinking that the days of the independent retail surveying practice were numbered. But is that really the case?

This month I was all prepared to write about the need for general and asset managers to seek business experience and marketing acumen. There is a real need for the humble management surveyor to grasp the nettle and drive shopping centres forward. We should be long beyond reactive management, but in a lot of cases I just don't see it in practice.

Ten years ago, when the Trafford centre opened on a derelict industrial site wedged between the M60 and the Manchester Ship Canal, industry reaction focused on the Vegas-style architecture - all classical statues and preserved palm trees - and was in danger of ignoring the fact that John Whittaker's Peel Holdings had in fact created a phenomenal retail machine.

The current economic downturn is having a huge negative impact on retailers and retail property owners at present, and with so many new developments launching this year, the timing of the 'credit crunch' could not have been worse.

Amid all the sparkle at the Shopping Centre SCEPTRE Awards dinner at London's Dorchester hotel last month, The Meadows centre in Chelmsford won The Environmental Initiative of the Year award for its achievement of almost 100 per cent waste recycling.

The forecast consequences of climate change are, it seems, becoming a reality, and shopping centres were among the more prominent casualties of recent extreme climatic events in the UK.

Buildings create a lot of CO2, so let's have an initiative to reduce it. That, more or less, is what the new Energy Performance Certificates are all about.

Paul Cornes is chairman of the BCSC's sustainability task force. Formed a year ago, its job has been to get the BCSC Sustainability Charter off the ground, which aims to get all stakeholders in the shopping centre industry to address their sustainability impact - energy, waste, water and the community.

The global headquarters of Bovis Lend Lease at The Bond in Sydney is the first Five Green Star building in Australia. It has 30 per cent lower CO2 than a typical office building, and a four-storey sandstone wall provides passive cooling as well as acting as an air duct out of the building. Another Lend Lease building, The Gauge in Melbourne, has just opened as the first privately-owned Six Green Star building in Australia.

Since Land Securities bought the galleria in Hatfield in October 2005, the factory outlet centre - located above the M1 motorway in Hertfordshire - has been transformed into a real success story with a marked increase in visitor numbers, dwell time and non-food spend.

Reducing the number of falls from height is one of the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) key aims in 2008, and forms an important element of its 'Shattered Lives' campaign.

The Dorchester hotel on London's Park Lane was the glittering setting for this year's SCEPTRE Awards, designed to recognise best practice and the best people across the shopping centre industry.

== ? ALLOA ==

The jury is out on where property values are going - some analysts forecast a crash, others believe a soft landing is most likely. While this year will see a slowdown in new openings, the development pipeline is still operating, with a new generation of bigger and more complex schemes on the drawing board.

ING REAL ESTATE has recruited two development managers for the UK. MICHAEL WISEMAN has joined from Oak Holdings, where he was a development surveyor working on a number of mixed-use schemes. And TIM ARMSTEAD joins from Npower where he was a development surveyor responsible for managing and disposal of a variety of sites throughout the UK.

At the impressive age of 94, you would expect Saul Magrill to be long retired. But the great grandfather loves his job so much that he has no plans to leave.

Fundraising has closed on an initiative to raise cash for air ambulance charities with the news that the target has been reached, raising more than £20,000. Spearheading the challenge was Karl Taylor, Workman Retail's manager at the Ryemarket shopping centre in Stourbridge.

No matter what the weather this summer, visitors to East Kilbride shopping centre will be able to enjoy all the fun of the seaside at Scotland's first indoor beach.

Located in the heart of Essen, Germany, the first phase of the Limbecker Platz shopping centre opened its doors in March, providing over 100 retail and foodservice units in a three-storey covered mall. Phase 2 of the development, due for completion in autumn 2009, will see the number of stores doubled, and will take the GLA to over 70,000 sq m once fully open.

With success in Asia and the United States under its belt, Japanese-owned specialist bakery franchise Beard Papa is set to take the UK by storm.

In these hard times it is becoming increasingly vital for shopping centres to stretch their marketing budgets to achieve as much coverage as possible for minimum expenditure.

Manchester's Triangle shopping centre has unveiled a 12 per cent year-on-year increase in its quarter one footfall figures, bucking the national trend which is down by 4.4 per cent. Meanwhile, early indicators from the weekly counters are also continuing to show a positive increase in shopper numbers for quarter two.


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