Lend Lease is to build a shopping centre of between 750,000 and 1 million sq ft in Stockport which will open towards the end of the decade. Working with the council, Cushman & Wakefield selected the developer to work up a mixed-use scheme from the masterplan it put together last year with BDP. Dubbed the "Bridgefield project", the project will add to the town's current 538,000 sq ft of retail provision.

Birmingham City Council planners have resolved to grant planning consent for Martineau Galleries, the final phase of the Birmingham Alliance's city centre regeneration programme. Consent now needs to be ratified by the Government Office for the West Midlands before construction could begin in 2008.

The new Chapelfield shopping centre has helped push Norwich into the top 10 UK destinations, according to Caci's annual Retail Footprint ranking. The city is now ranked eighth in the national hierarchy.

A flurry of lettings has boosted occupancy levels at Meadowhall at a time when voids are appearing in a number of shopping centres across the country. Virgin Megastore has signed for an 8,200 sq ft unit on the mall's lower level high street and Carphone Warehouse has opened its third branch in the centre, measuring 520 sq ft. Meanwhile fashion jeweller Red will open a shop in a 530 sq ft unit on the upper level of Meadowhall's Arcade.

Dundrum Town Centre opens a theatre on May 4th as part of the continuing development of the scheme. Dubbed the "New Mill Theatre", the ribbon will be cut on the 206-seat venue by Irish President Mary McAleese and the first production will be Our Town by Thornton Wilder.

The flow of development proposals shows no sign of abating with Lend Lease putting together a million-sq ft scheme in Stockport and the Birmingham Alliance gaining provisional approval for a similar amount at Martineau Galleries in Birmingham.

Braehead now has its very own indoor real-snow ski slope - Xscape, which opened last week. The 380,000 sq ft structure, complete with 40,622 sq ft of retail and 72,236 sq ft of food and drink, is the third of its kind in the UK and all of them are owned by X-Leisure, fronted by its charismatic Anglophile French chief executive PY Gerbau.

The SCEPTRE Awards, rewarding the best practice and the best people in the UK and Ireland shopping centre industry, are back - with a fabulous new venue.

Hotel Chocolat

Ever walked past a chocolate shop and not even bothered to look in the window? The profusion of shops selling pralines, bonbons and choccie bars of various types means that retailers in this sector have become a commonplace almost everywhere and as such, hardly worthy of comment.

I've written previously about footfall and concluded it's a useful but erratic tool for monitoring mall performance. Erratic, in that falls in shopper numbers can mask increases in sales revenues, as has been the case since November. Conversion, frequency and spend are more valuable measures to get behind crude shopper data to focus on real shopper behaviour.

Both the Trafford Centre and the Bullring recently began offering shoppers the chance to buy pre-paid gift cards that allow the recipient to spend the value on the cards at retailers within the respective centres.

Eric Williams receives a retirement gift from BCSC chief executive Michael Green

It was back in November 1991 that I penned my first hesitant editorial 'leader' for the launch issue of my baby into the unsuspecting world of shopping centres and retail parks. That editorial devolved (some might say 'degenerated') into Listen 'ere, a column that allowed me free rein to lambast, criticise, condemn and praise people and organisations.

John Laker, managing director of Centros Miller, doesn't look like a man who's cursed. In fact he seems in rude health sitting in his Mayfair headquarters. Tall and well built, he insists he's given up football. But he looks like he could still give a marauding striker a problem or two.

The past six months have seen a massive consolidation in the retail surveying world, with niche practices Dalgleish and Blair Kirkman being snapped up by up global giants CBRE and Savills. The market is awash with rumours of more deals, so what's driving consolidation and what does the future hold for those who stay independent?

Last month saw the terms of the Private Security Industry Act 2001 finally coming into force, meaning that security personnel operating in a shopping centre, or anywhere else for that matter, now need a license if they are not to be illegal. The aim is to codify the sector, regulating behaviour and ensuring uniform standards wherever you go.

Bolton is close to quite a lot of other places including Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Preston and the Trafford Centre. All of them are accessible, to a greater or lesser degree, by the motorway network that weaves its way around the North-West and all of them represent competition for Bolton shopping centre, Market Place.

The new hot food 'To Go' offer is implanted in the established 'grab and go' area of sandwiches, boxed salads, cold drinks, etc, and adds a new dimension to M&S food, cunningly located nearest to the office district in Milton Keynes.

== AYR ==

== The Walk, Reading ==

Burns statue

To mark the opening of Henry Boot's £75m Ayr Central shopping centre, local dignitaries gathered to unveil a sculpture depicting the local hero Robert Burns.

Birmingham has become the first city in the UK to introduce a city-wide Child Safe Zone by bringing together the Bullring, the Pallasades and the Pavilions shopping centres as well as the markets and the surrounding shopping streets.

The recent opening of the Metquarter was the occasion for much rejoicing among Liverpool's style pundits, not least for the sudden abundance of designer labels that they have had to make the trip to Manchester to enjoy up to now.

ALDER KING has promoted IAN MCGAW to partner. He joined Alder King in May 2004 from Chesterton as head of the professional services department and since then he has established a property management department in the Cardiff office.

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