Farewell Westfield, welcome Intu at Merry Hill

Intu takes a slice of Merry Hill in £408m deal

Property group Intu has acquired a 50 per cent interest in the Merry Hill Shopping Centre for more than £400m.

It is part of a £867.8m deal which also includes the takeover of Derby’s Westfield centre and Sprucefield retail park in Northern Ireland.

The shopping centre group is funding the acquisition through new debt facilities totalling £423.8m and a rights issue which is intended to raise gross proceeds of approximately £500m and net proceeds of about £488m.

Merry Hill in Brierley Hill, near Dudley, was developed in the late 1980s. It has 1.4 million sq ft over two retail levels with 214 shop units and a further 300,000 sq ft of other adjacent retail space generating net annual rent of almost £55m.

About 25 million shoppers are attracted to the centre, which is anchored by Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, Bhs, Primark, Sainsbury’s, Next and Asda, each year. The centre currently has an occupancy of about 96 per cent.

Westfield holds its interest in Merry Hill jointly with QIC, which will retain its 50 per cent holding after the acquisition.

Intu will be appointed as asset and development manager for centre and it will be rebranded as intu Merry Hill.

The group agreed to pay £407.7m for the stake in Merry Hill.

Intu chief executive David Fischel said: “The transaction is a rare and attractive opportunity to acquire a further two prime shopping centres in line with our strategy to focus on the UK’s largest and most successful destinations.

“The acquisition strengthens Intu’s position as the leading owner, developer and manager of prime UK shopping centres filling in gaps in our national coverage and extending the footprint of our nationwide consumer facing brand and digital strategy.

“We are delighted to establish a partnership with QIC, a major global investor, at Merry Hill.”

Intu already owns The Potteries centre in Stoke and the Victoria and Broadmarsh centres in Nottingham

Fashionistas flock to Merry Hill’s celeb-inspired catwalk shows

Fashionistas flock to Merry Hill’s celeb-inspired catwalk shows

Hundreds of shoppers gathered to watch celebrity inspired models take to the catwalk in a feast of fashion shows at Merry Hill this past weekend.

The Faces of Fashion shows were part of a two-day style extravaganza held at the shopping mall on Saturday March 26 and Sunday March 27.

Models sported the latest spring and summer looks from the High Street during a series of short catwalk shows – geared at showing shoppers how to achieve the celebrity looks of Cheryl Cole, Rihanna, Dannii Minogue and Holly Willoughby.

The shows marked the end of the centre’s campaign to find fashion fans who go the extra mile to emulate their style icon – after a recent poll carried out at the mall revealed 32 per cent of women would like to look like popstar and X Factor judge Cheryl Cole and most men questioned said they take inspiration from Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth.

Kelly Reed, Merry Hill marketing manager, said: “The Faces of Fashion shows were a huge success. It was great to see so many shoppers turn out and enjoy the shows and pick up some styling tips.”

There were also discounts galore at a host of beauty and clothing retailers across the centre as part of the fashion weekend.

Source: Stourbridge News       Photo credits: Neighbours News

Express and Star: Tram-train line work could launch in 2014 « Express & Star

A £100million project to launch a tram-train line taking commuters across the Black Country will be in place by 2014 if plans unveiled in detail today are approved.

The move is expected to create hundreds of jobs.

Hybrid tram-trains, capable of travelling along both light and heavy rail tracks, would run along a defunct freight train route, taking passengers between Stourbridge and Walsall, with stops in Brierley Hill and Dudley town centre. Council chiefs estimate the plans would bring in a minimum £200m boost to the economy. Continue reading Express and Star: Tram-train line work could launch in 2014 « Express & Star

Planning inspector’s report on Brierley Hill published

The report of the planning inspector, Vincent Maher, has been published and is overwhelmingly supportive of the Brierley Hill Area Action Plan, but deletes references to ‘strategic wildlife corridors’ to replace them with ‘wildlife corridors’ in order to make the policy easier to understand and adds in a paragraph that developers must take account of the possible potential of coal extraction as part of their plans.

Key tasks prior to major development remain the introduction of a car park charging regime at Merry Hill and the introduction of improvements in public transport and surely the focus will now shift to moving ahead on these initiatives now.

You can read the inspectors report below. Continue reading Planning inspector’s report on Brierley Hill published

Area Action Plan nearing completion

Brierley Hill Area Action Plan – a key planning document which will guide future developments in the area – is reaching its final run in to adoption following an ‘Examination in Public’ held at Dudley Council House in December.  Planners are now looking to formally adopt the plan this summer.

The proposed plan which will guide the creation of over 10,000 new jobs, a significant expansion of the Merry Hill Centre, the building of over 3,000 new homes in the area, and the introduction of more leisure and community facilities, was subject to questioning by Inspector Vincent Maher during a week of meetings and visits.

Community groups, council officials, traders, environmentalists, developers and landlords all attended the examination.

Overall the process was very positive – not a surprise given the amount of consultation that has taken place over the last decade.

Points of debate centred around how to improve public transport to the town, how to enhance the High Street, the impact of the introduction of car park charging at Merry Hill, how best to protect and enhance wildlife in the area and  the role of manufacturing within the plan.

Mr Maher is now considering his report on whether the plan conforms to national requirements and is realistic in its delivery prospects.  His report should be available at the end of this month, February.

All being well the plan should be ready for adoption this summer and the hard work of implementing it will gain a further boost.

What do you think the new Brierley Hill should look like?

As one of the key regeneration areas in the West Midlands Brierley Hill is expected to provide over 3,000 new homes, an increase in shopping facilites and 250 thousand square metres of new offices.  Transport improvements are also planned.

Already new buildings have been constructed: the £25 million new Health and Social Care Centre, the Merry Hill £24 million food court ‘Eat Central, and the new Brierley Hill Creative Industries Campus for Stourbridge College.  Improvements to transport are already underway with the completion of the £28 million Venture Way.

But it as old Brierley Hill, Merry Hill and the Waterfront are linked together it is important that the town looks and feels good, and there is a real positive sense of identity for residents and visitors.

One way of achieving this is to set out expectations that develpers will have to meet when designing new buildings.  This is done througha ‘Supplementary Planning Document’ and Dudley Council is seeking views on what this should contain now.

You can read the document and questionnaire below and have your say by 18th October 2010.  Enquiries should be addressed to rachel.gandolfi@dudley.gov.uk.

More information is available at:


Brierley Hill Supplementary Planning Document Report – With Answer Boxes

Designing the new Brierley Hill: Powerpoint presentation

On 2nd September Brierley Hill Town Centre Partnership received a presentation on how the drawing up of new guidelines for Brierley Hill. View the presentation below. If you want to take part in the consultation they you can do so by going to the website:
Power Point Presentation – 021092010

Urban Design in Brierley Hill Town Centre: event and consultation

How should buildings in the new Brierley Hill look?  How can design influence the ‘feel’ and viability of a town centre?  Can crime be designed out?

Brierley Hill Civic Society will be having a presentation from Dudley Council on these matters on Monday 19th July at 5.30pm at St Michael’s, Brierley Hill.  If you are interested in the future of your town please come and join us.  The council’s website explains the process of drawing up the ‘Supplementary Planning Document and this will be a chance to have your say… Continue reading Urban Design in Brierley Hill Town Centre: event and consultation