I write with regard to the results of your web poll in the September issue, where 85 per cent of those who took part expressed the view that shopping centres should allow small independent retailers to trade at a subsidised rent.

Out-of-town shopping centres such as Bluewater and Meadowhall may be forced to start charging their customers to park at their schemes on the back of recommendations by the UK Commission for Integrated Transport.

The BPA is moving forward with its marketing campaign for the Park Mark Safer Parking Award by encouraging shopping centres to get on board.

The parking industry tends to attract a lot of national press attention, but unfortunately it's the bad news that tends to hit the headlines.

Inevitably with all the new shopping centre developments coming on line, the need to create appropriate parking provision is paramount.

Hammerson has continued its summer-long drive to reshape its retail portfolio with the sale of the Liberty shopping centre in Romford, east London, to Cosgrave Property Group for £281m.

PRUPIM has appointed MacLellan International to provide a total facilities management solution to 14 of its shopping centres. The fund manager is bringing in-house the management of three Scottish Amicable shopping centres and in doing so it is expanding its contract with MacLellan.

The latest reader poll on [http://www.shopping-centre.co.uk] was: "Should we allocate spaces to allow small independents to have a presence in shopping centres at a subsidised rent?" 86 per cent said "Yes" and 14 per cent said "No."

Hotel Chocolat is continuing to drive forward its store expansion program with new deals signed at five centres.

Just one month prior to opening, P&O Estates has announced that a further eight retailers will be joining the line-up at the £200m Drake Circus development in Plymouth.

Debenhams is to anchor Capital Shopping Centres' Southern Gateway redevelopment at Eldon Square shopping centre in Newcastle. The 180,000 sq ft store will trade on four levels and create an anchor for the new single-level mall extension, which will have 30 large shops, trading on two levels.

ING Retail Property Fund Britannica has acquired Church Square shopping centre in St Helens from Analytical Properties for £75m. The sale reflects a 5.18 per cent initial yield and takes the value of the fund to over £600m.

French childrenswear brand Du Pariel au Meme has opened its first UK store and announced plans to acquire up to 20 further stores in the next five years.

Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King, the man credited with rejuvenating the company and helping it to regain the number two slot in the UK's grocery league table, will be the keynote speaker at this year's BCSC conference. He will be joined by the John Lewis Partnership's managing director Charlie Mayfield.

manchester Arndale's new market

After eight years of planning and four years of construction, the completed Manchester Arndale opened this month.

Mothercare has been transformed over the last three years following a brand turnaround programme led by chief executive Ben Gordon.

How much of the cost spent in many shopping centres can the centre manager really control?

For both retailers and retail developers, reducing the energy emissions from property and operations is of growing importance. Consumers expect businesses to act responsibly with regard to the environment and minimise emissions, and there is also increasing pressure from the government, which is obliged by international treaties to take measures to reduce global warming, as well as wanting to demonstrate its green credentials to the electorate.

Anyone wanting to be a retail property developer needs a good deal of patience, but John Drummond has had to display this virtue in spades at Kendal in the Lake District. He has been involved with the redevelopment of the K-Village outlet scheme for six years. But finally this month, preliminary site works begin before construction properly kicks off in February 2007.

PalaceXchange, Enfield

London is not the easiest of places to develop new shopping centres: fragmented ownership means site acquisition is often a problem and planners jealously protect their town centres. So with this in mind, it is quite remarkable that the capital now has two million sq ft of malls in the pipeline, and even more remarkable is the fact that the two - White City and Stratford City - are both in the ownership of one developer, Westfield.

HomeLIVE has capitalised on the popularity of home makeover programmes

Marketing initiatives have become highly imaginative over recent years within the shopping centre environment. Poster sites, newspaper adverts and bus sides are still popular and are proven marketing techniques, but these days there is so much more centre managers can do to increase footfall and customer spend.

With the introduction of the new security licensing regulation has also come a recognition that security officers in a shopping centre and retail environment require a specific set of skills that revolves around customer focus.

For many shopping centre managers, the seismic change in the private security industry this year may have gone largely unnoticed. This is because the vast majority of centres use reputable security firms on long-term contracts.

According to the BRC/KPMG retail sales monitor for August 2006, UK retail sales were up 2.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis, compared with a weak August 2005, when sales dropped 1 per cent in the wake of the July bombings in London.

The August Retail FootFall Index shows the strongest month-on-month change for the retail sector since the end of 2005, with an increase in shopper numbers of 3.3% since July, and the smallest decline in annual footfall since the start of the continued retail slump in July 2005.

The first half of 2006 saw a significant slowdown in shopping centre investment activity, according to Colliers CRE's Midsummer Retail Report. In the first half of this year, turnover fell by 65 per cent on last year, with 25 deals against 72 previously.

== ? Barnstaple ==

== ? Castle Quay, Banbury ==

The Sunday of the August Bank Holiday finds me in Midsummer Place, Milton Keynes, to review the latest opening for Ponti's. The 3,500 sq ft, specially-designed unit is split over two levels and sits between Debenhams and H&M, thereby providing a steady footfall stream throughout the day.

John O'Shea, manager of the Freeport Braintree outlet mall in Essex, is the top-rated manager in the entire Realm portfolio, according to the company's leasing manager Gordon Gabbani. And the Braintree centre's performance during 2005 shows why this is the case.

HAMMOND PHILLIPS has appointed CLIVE SNASHALL as a director within its growing agency division. A former senior associate director at Dalgleish, he has more than 20 years high street and shopping centre agency experience.

News that Xscape Castleford is the UK's best-attended paid-for tourist attraction has tempted players into the indoor ski business. The latest scheme to start on-site is the £31m Chill Factor next to The Trafford Centre in Manchester.

It's one of those deals where you wonder why it hadn't happened before, but Capital Shopping Centres' Potteries centre in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, has signed up to sponsor The Potters - or Stoke City FC to the uninitiated. Once one of England's top teams, Stoke is now mid-table in the Championship but a return to the top flight is by no means impossible.

Poole in Dorset is built on the world's second biggest natural harbour, after Sydney, so you're never far from water. For that reason alone it's important that kids there learn to swim.

Gunwharf Quays' Land Securities £200m mixed-use development at Portsmouth Harbour took Park & Ride one step further this summer. In an attempt to reduce emissions and congestion, it set up a trial Park & Boat.

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