Sevenoaks - Bligh's Meadow - LA

Client: Sevenoaks District Council

Instruction: Development consultancy

Sevenoaks District Council had identified a town centre site for redevelopment to enhance the town’s retail offer but over many years had not been able to bring forward a suitable and viable scheme. We successfully advised the council on a development strategy to achieve their aim; Bligh’s Meadow, a 100,000 sq ft shopping centre that included office and residential accommodation was opened to public acclaim in 2000, some 30 years after it was first contemplated.

We advised the Council on: site assembly; compulsory purchase; tender of the site and selection of development partner; design; valuation; letting; and sale of a long leasehold interest. This required us to have a full understanding of local authority processes and we worked closely with council officers whilst also regularly reporting to council members.

The first developer appointed by the council was unable to deliver a viable scheme and to secure sufficient retailer commitment so the opportunity had to be re-tendered. Bluewater shopping centre was under construction at this time and retailers did not have confidence that Sevenoaks would have sufficient draw. Ironbridge Estates and Morrison Developments were then selected as preferred developers, proposing a reduced scale of development and having the confidence to start on site without any pre-lettings in place. This scheme was delivered on time and the design was in keeping with the historic nature of the existing High Street, which it complemented, adding to Sevenoaks retail offer. Bligh’s Meadow also provided the town with a 200 space shopper’s car park, operated by the council.

Retailers attracted to Sevenoaks included Monsoon, Laura Ashley, Body Shop, Viyella, Holland & Barrett, Costa Coffee, Phase 8 and Gap. Marks & Spencer were later attracted to the scheme, reflecting its strength.