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LONDON-The long-awaited £500m ($785 million) regeneration of Bracknell town centre has cleared the final hurdle after Legal & General and Bracknell Regeneration Trust agreed terms.

Major landowners L&G and BRT, Schroders Exempt Property Unit Trust’s (SEPUT) joint venture with Allied London Properties, aim to submit a planning application this year. The move represents a major breakthrough in a longstanding dispute between the former rivals over the regeneration of Bracknell. A joint masterplan was not agreed until July 2002. Even then, the council felt it had to threaten to use compulsory purchase powers or introduce a new developer if an agreement was not reached.

As part of the Bracknell Regeneration Trust, Allied London Properties has sold over £80 million ($125.6 million) of its interests to L&G and SEPUT. ALP will manage Princess Square, Charles Square and other properties.

Proposals aim to create 59,000 sq m of retail, 60,000 sq m of business space and 600 homes. The plan, drawn up by consultants EDAW, covers more than 36ha (89 acres) and proposes the demolition of concrete buildings dating from the 1950s.

The long-running battle between the two parties began in 1997 when the development consortia submitted rival plans for retail schemes each amounting to more than 93,000 sq m. But Secretary of State rejected both proposals for being too large, not integrating with existing shops and potentially damaging nearby Wokingham town centre.

Intense competition between the former rivals is largely due to the shortage of opportunities in the UK for major town centre retail schemes. In addition, Bracknell is close to the high tech centre of England where there high disposable incomes. While neighbouring towns improved their retail offer, Bracknell has lagged behind partly because of multi-ownership.

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