|Declining Putney Exchange Needs Palmhouse Say Owners|
Falling rents and empty units means 'new life' must be brought to town centre
The owner of the Putney Exchange Shopping Centre has said that the current tough trading environment means that it is essential that schemes like the Palmhouse proceed.
Matthew Wheeldon, a director at BlackRock UK commented, "Putney Exchange has been an integral part of the town centre since its development in 1990 and within the current owner’s stewardship for over 20 years. During that time we have witnessed the constant changes in shopping habits and tried to keep pace with this evolution by adapting the retail and leisure mix to ensure that the Centre remains relevant to contemporary trends. It has been well documented that High Streets across the UK are struggling to attract shoppers and the proliferation of empty units where there used to be thriving businesses is not an uncommon theme. Unfortunately Putney is no exception to this with the loss of a raft of national multiple retailers including Marks & Spencer, River Island and Top Shop. In order to preserve the vitality and viability of town centres alternative uses, often leisure-related, need to be introduced. “
He added that they have witnessed significant decreases in tenant demand for retail space in Putney Exchange some of which have been the result of businesses going bust. This has led to an increased number of empty units and falling rents which he says are significantly below the levels achieved 5 years ago in real terms. In addition he gave figures for car park usage at Putney Exchange which shows a 27% decline over the last five years.
He concluded, “In light of these challenges, we are looking at ways to help breathe new life into the town centre for the benefit of Putney residents and visitors alike to encourage prolonged dwell-time, increase spend and attract fresh investment.”
BlackRock say that they have made a multi-million pound investment into the centre in recent years and are considering other initiatives to revive it including a ‘boutique’ cinema and a gym. They claim that the four existing London venues run by Incipio Group have proved to be very popular and operate very successfully.
Mr Wheeldon said, “Incipio has created a bespoke concept that we firmly believe will make a positive contribution to the town centre by supporting a whole raft of businesses and encourage more people to visit, shop and spend their social and leisure time in Putney".
The current proposal is the second attempt following the withdrawal last year of the pop-up Pergola. The venue proposed to be run by Incipio Group and will according to the application offer; '3 restaurants with capacity of 233 people per restaurant, that will
change on rotation every 6 to 12 months. There will also be a central bar(s) to cater for our
guests and table service will be available whenever suitable'.
"Being a regular at Market Halls in Fulham and Victoria, and Pergola at Olympia and Paddington, I very much doubt this is going to be a venue full of 18 year old ravers at night (we have the Fez for this!). Please go and visit the other venues to see what pleasant places they are to spend an evening with friends eating good food with a glass of wine before writing it off. You will most likely find them full of local work professionals such as myself.".
The application has received support from Positively Putney, in a letter to the planning department, Chair, Toby Lewin-Lloyd said, " One of Positively Putney’s key objectives is to maximise Putney’s potential by working tirelessly to make it a vibrant and attractive place for those who work, live and visit.We feel that the Palmhouse would complement the thriving night time economy in Putney, bringing something truly unique to the town centre".
February 8, 2019