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LONDON- Great Portland Estates has successfully extricated itself from a £90 million ($127 million) agreement to fund MAB’s Western Sector retail development in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The two companies settled their dispute out of court just prior to a High Court hearing.

Great Portland had originally agreed to finance the 445,000 sf scheme, and agreed a two-year lock-in, but it has subsequently changed corporate strategy and decided to quit the retail sector to concentrate on central London offices. The High Wycombe project has been delayed by a lengthy planning and compulsory purchase process, but the Compulsory Purchase Order was finally granted in May 2000, clearing the way for a start on site in September 2002. The Dutch-based MAB will now have to find a new financial backer.

House of Fraser has signed a pre-letting on the anchor department store and the project includes a new bus station, library, multiplex cinema and health and fitness club. Both sides said the dispute had been resolved amicably, and GPE director David James said: ‘As owner of the neighbouring Octagon Centre we have always supported the Western Sector development and we will continue to work with MAB and Wycombe District Council to see a successful integration of the schemes.’

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