Tuesday, 05 July 2016 17:12

Spires upgrade a Brexit casualty?

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The Spires - the latest proposal The Spires - the latest proposal
An announcement that had been expected in early June about a go-ahead for the Spires shopping centre redevelopment has still not materialised, and there is still no date when work might start.

Hunter Real Estate Investment deny that the upgrade of the High Barnet shopping mall is on pause because of a widespread freeze on new retail and office construction following the Leave vote in the European Union Referendum.

Talks are said to be continuing, and Hunter Real Estate insist the delay is for no other reason than that the company wants to make sure “everything is in line” before a start date is announced.

The Spires was purchased for £40 million in July 2015 by a Canadian pension fund, Alberta Investment Management Corporation, and an announcement had been expected two weeks before the Referendum vote on the go ahead for a £7 million upgrade.

The redevelopment includes a new two-storey store to be built for an “international fashion brand”, rumoured to be the Swedish fashion chain H&M.

A go-ahead for the upgrade, that also includes three new restaurants, is dependent on securing a tenant for the new anchor store. Planning approval for the redevelopment was given by Barnet Council in May.

London Borough of Barnet voted Remain by 62 to 38 per cent

In early June, the Barnet Society was told that until the deal had been agreed with the international fashion brand, it would not be possible to say when work might commence.

In response to questions from the Society, Hunter Real Estate insist that the Spires project is not on pause because of a post-Brexit freeze on new construction projects.

Talks are continuing with lawyers for the various parties involved, and they were said to be taking longer than expected.

Leading retailers such as Tesco have announced a freeze on further store developments until there is clarity about the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

Other retailers are warning that projects will be delayed because of a feared fall-off in High Street spending.

AIMCo’s £40 million purchase of the Spires from the Williams Pears group is the largest property investment in High Barnet.

When the deal was announced, AIMCo said it had made the acquisition because the Spires was prime retail space in “one of London’s largest and fastest-growing boroughs, as well as one of the most affluent.”

In the referendum, the London Borough of Barnet voted Remain by 62 to 38 per cent.

The Chipping Barnet MP, Mrs Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, was a leading campaigner in the Leave campaign.

She has backed Andrea Leadsom in the Conservative Party’s leadership contest.


  • Comment Link Tuesday, 05 July 2016 19:51 posted by Andy Stock

    The Spires is a disaster, full of empty units. This is more about changing consumer shopping habits than anything to do with BREXIT.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 05 July 2016 19:52 posted by Daniella Zammit

    Barnet needs to get rid of all the crappy charity shops they have all down our tacky high street and start opening some nice shops so the consumer can enjoy a decent shop in Barnet!!!

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 05 July 2016 19:53 posted by Phil Ha

    This project had SODASOPA written all over it from the start. When you have a car to park the Spires shopping experience is very much like being a rushed participant in The Crystal Maze. I'd rather just drive up to North Finchley instead.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 05 July 2016 19:54 posted by Gary Murphy

    How the hell has this been linked to Brexit!!!

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 05 July 2016 19:55 posted by Andy Stock

    Gary Murphy is totally correct.

    The Spires has been full of empty units well before BREXIT was even talked about.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 05 July 2016 19:55 posted by Julie Skinner

    Those crappy charity shops are supplying money to great causes! People with cancer needing treatment , children in need etc etc !!! I was born in Barnet and very proud to live here! I wouldn't call our high street Tacky (in need of some shops yes I agree) . Enough said.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 05 July 2016 19:56 posted by Gary Ramsay Slough

    The Spires - you cant polish a turd - I always hated it

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 05 July 2016 20:08 posted by Barry Pearce

    I totally agree with you Julie these people need all the help they can get

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 06 July 2016 08:05 posted by Martin McNally

    Better a charity shop than an empty shop. There are so many vacant shops in the high street why aren't these the 'nice' shops you want? Charity shops serve a purpose and serve it well.
    The spires has had empty units for a long time, the high cost of having a unit there was happening long before brexit.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 06 July 2016 09:34 posted by Christopher Mitchell

    It has to be with rates. We have had fashion retailers such as 'next' in the Spires but they could not survive due to no traffic coming through Barnet to shop which again must come down to the rates.

    Lower the rates as an introduction to shops, get them in and the people will follow thus making Barnet a place that people will want to visit to shop.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 06 July 2016 13:34 posted by Andrew

    There is a place for charity shops but I'm afraid there are too many in the high street. It gives an impression of a down at heel area which in turn discourages investment.

    The Spires is the best thing about the high street and I look forward to its redevelopment happening soon.


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