News: Australia-based property trust Westfield and UK-based property developer Hammerson have secured preliminary approval for the redevelopment of a mall in south London. The local government council in the town of Croydon voted to approve the Whitgift Centre project, a GBP1bn (US$1.6bn) project involving the two firms. The project will also include the development of up to 600 homes, offices and leisure facilities. Around 5,000 jobs are slated to be created by the development.
BMI View: While the UK's commercial real estate sector has been one of the strongest performers across Europe, thanks largely to the safe-haven status of its capital, the industry continues to struggle in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Nevertheless, while the market remains under pressure, there is increasing optimism for the sector, with 2013 seeing the development pipeline becoming more active, investment on the up, rental rates remaining steady and vacancy rates improving.