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LONDON-Stannifer has signed up department store operator House of Fraser to anchor a major retail scheme in the centre of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

The department store group will occupy a 141,500 sq ft outlet as part of Project Phoenix, a mixed used commercial development of 635,000 sq ft. House of Fraser will take a four level landmark building fronting Lilys Walk and Desborough Road on a site between a new covered shopping street to be developed by Stannifer and the existing Octagon Centre, new leisure space and a civic amenity. lan Peach, director of property development, said: “We know there is huge customer demand for a high quality department store in Wycombe.”

John Coleman, managing director of House of Fraser, said: ‘We believe it has the potential to become a top trading location for us.’

The developer secured the site in September 2001 when it bought the Octagon Centre as part of the acquisition of a portfolio from Great Portland Estates (GPE). Stannifer then teamed up with a consortium comprising Bank of Scotland and Corovest to buy the Octagon, Queens Arcade in Cardiff, the Harvey Centre in Harlow, and Charter Walk in Burnley for £235 million ($394 million)

High Wycombe has struggled for years to get a new shopping centre under way. The previous developer MAB failed to reach an agreement with its funding partner GPE and was subsequently dropped as preferred developer by the council. Then more recently a rival scheme was put forward by Tesco and its joint venture partner Shearer Property Group.

But the Stannifer scheme may have the edge. The council has already granted planning consent, a development agreement is in place and the Government Office for the South East has said it will not be calling in the scheme. Stannifer is being advised by King Sturge.

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