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By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: June 29, 2012

  • White River Place, St Austell

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ST AUSTELL shoppers should forget about big-name brands such as Marks and Spencer opening at White River Place any time soon, the centre's new owners have said.

Curzon Capital Partners III joined forces Ellandi, which owns four other shopping centres, to purchase the St Austell shopping hub, it was confirmed this week.

Morgan Garfield, Ellandi partner, told the Cornish Guardian it was bought for between £20 and £25 million and they were attracted to the town because of its mix of character and modern convenience.

But Mr Garfield said some of the high street's most popular names were not interested in St Austell at the present time.

"Unfortunately, the reality is, retailers are very scientific in the type of town they will go to," he said.

"We actually don't have big enough units to persuade a Primark or an H&M to come to St Austell and it's not a big enough town. We do need to be realistic."

Local businessman Mike Coles, who owns Broadley Park Properties Ltd, echoed these sentiments. "The sale of White River Place (WRP) is great news for the town," he said. "[Ellandi] are people that have the knowledge and resources to turn the fortunes of WRP around.

"But, don't expect miracles. We won't get Marks and Spencer or Next in the short term. What Ellandi need to do is fill empty shops to create interest and therefore footfall and allow the centre to recover.

"Once footfall is up to expected levels, other retailers will take notice of the town and want to trade here.

He added that the letting of units to retailers like the 99p Stores (due to open in the autumn) is not a negative thing and premium brands will be attracted once footfall increases.

Mr Garfield said despite this, they are "delighted" as they believe WRP is a "wonderful piece of real estate".

"We are retail experts with an understanding to what the retail environment currently looks like," he added.

"We have got really close relationships with a number of retailers who we think hopefully might like a home in St Austell."

Mr Coles said the sales brochure for the scheme was produced in July 2010 and at least two buyers previously withdrew after agreeing terms to buy.

WRP took more than seven years to build and cost about £75 million to complete.

"The biggest issue with WRP is the fact that the previous owners were in negative equity from day one," he said.

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  • homerjay  |  June 30 2012, 10:48AM

    classic_odeon Saturday, June 30 2012, 7:40AM Nice one, I totally agree. Those same councillors backed the Blight on our Beach at Carlyon Bay and the city status.

  • shagrats  |  June 30 2012, 9:26AM

    I love the tone of this article, you would have thought that this destructive costly wastefull farce is a good thing for St Austell. I would love to hear the authors spin about the positive benefits of getting cancer next.

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  • classic_odeon  |  June 30 2012, 7:40AM

    Rubbish conception and execution. The whole St.Austell 'regeneration' was a farce from beginning to end...and it continues with this news of the sale of a large part of a once proud Cornish town at a knockdown price to a no doubt London based property company. The previous Aylmer Square, so cruelly run down over the course of 10 years to allow for this development, the effects of which were so damaging to the town, could have been so easily refreshed/modified at a fraction of this cost, and was all the town needed, not more concrete and empty shop units. And lets not forget that in the process, we also lost a large and much needed in town food store, Tesco's, who wanted to stay in the town centre but were threatened with the compulsory purchase of their premises to allow this development, and the destruction of a fine and significant piece of our heritage in the shape of the magnificent 1930's ODEON cinema building. Shame on the uncaring councillors (You know who you are), clueless RDA and greedy developers. Your legacy and failings have been left for all to see.

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  • homerjay  |  June 29 2012, 9:42AM

    White River or White Elephant? Cost taxpayers £75m+ then 'given away' to big business at the bargain price £20m. Units too small for the big names and rumours that Tk Maxx is also pulling out But let's look at the upside, we're getting a 99p shop and a charity shop has opened there. Bargain giveaways just like White River Elephant

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  • trelawneyone  |  June 29 2012, 9:28AM

    small thinking rda the shopping centre should have been built for shops, they knew from day one that these units were not big enough for the big named companies yet they forged ahead with what they wanted not what st, austell needed which a lot of people voiced their opinions about before it started also like the original plans of covering it in fell on deaf ears and so in my opinion as a st, austell born person there is no real good outlook for the town centre people will still go to truro & plymouth etc for m&s and the other big stores but good luck to this new company.

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