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Retail space to open in 2008 at highest level in over 40 years

A total of 1.2 million sq m of retail space is currently under construction or has opened since July, a new report by property consultancy Cushman & Wakefield shows.

Released at the British Council of Shopping Centres annual conference in Liverpool, the study says the amount of shopping centre floor space to open this year is at its highest level since the firm’s records began in 1965.

It is estimated construction will be finished on a total of 945,000 sq m of shopping centre space before the year is out.

About 560,000 sq m of that is in new build centre, the remaining 385,000 sq m was or is being built in the form of extensions and redevelopment.

Cushman & Wakefield head of shopping centre leasing Justin Taylor said, if the liquidity crisis continued, development levels would likely take a dive after 2009 as schemes are postponed due to financial or funding issues.

Hammerson has already this week revealed it plans to freeze all new developments until the end of next year.

Mr Taylor said: “Whilst new space will continue to be delivered over the next 12-18 months, these will be schemes which have already secured funding and of which construction has begun.

“Beyond this, the pace of development is expected to slow, primarily because of funding issues, although the state of the wider economy is also likely to feature more prominently in developers decision-making.”

By Rhiannon Hoyle in Liverpool