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The new store, which is under construction © Peel Retail Parks

Massive Store is Next for Straiton

Retail park owners, the Peel Group, have confirmed the letting of a repurposed 80,000 sq.ft to the high street clothes retailer, six months after planners gave the go ahead.

In what will be their third move since opening in the Peel Pentland Centre, better known as Straiton Retail Park, Next PLC has announced the pre-let of a new 75,611 sq.ft unit, formerly occupied by Homebase.

Shortly before the DIY retailer announced their departure from the retail park, Next showed their intentions to acquire their unit by submitting a planning application proposing radical modernisation works. The, now approved, plans give Next permission to erect large curtain glass windows between the current steel columns, which will themselves be clad in limestone. Homebase’s signage tower to the north east of the development site has already been demolished and will be replaced by a new cubic tower. Works  are progressing rapidly on site.

In total, the new store will give the clothing and home retailer 52,014 sq. ft of sales space, a 346% increase in floorspace since they first opened on the lower tier of the retail park. The expansion will create Next’s largest store in Scotland and one of the largest in the United Kingdom, behind their flagship Hedge End, High Wycombe and Norwich (William Frost Way) stores. Their new Straiton outlet will broadly follow the same design as the aforementioned ones as they seek to establish a new image for their out of town properties.

Next's new High Wycombe flagship with Jura Limestone cladding © Next PLC
Next’s new High Wycombe flagship with Jura Limestone cladding © Next PLC

However, the plans also include space for two concessions and a cafe. It is known that Costa Coffee will open their second outlet in the park, and whilst the two other concessions are unconfirmed, recent planning documents point to the jewellers Beaverbrooks and the stationery shop Paperchase taking up small portions of the space. All this equates to an additional 110 jobs for the local area, along with an improved product range for customers.

Mark Whittaker, Group Property Director at Peel Land and Property, said:

Recently ranked a Top 20 UK Retail Park by Property Week, the continued investment, development and focus on design progression at Straiton, has enabled Peel and Next to exchange contracts to deliver what will become the largest Next store in Scotland. Peel has for the last five years been working hard on repositioning Straiton and we are delighted that we are now in a position to announce this truly transformational deal.

Recent additions and improvements within the park, including a new Nando’s restaurant and ‘Outfit’ miniature departure store, have raised the Peel Pentland Centre’s footfall to six million visitors per annum. For the park owner though, the new Next development is just the beginning as they prepare to complete the park by following through on their current planning permission for a department store and ‘fashion terrace’. Despite receiving approval five years ago, plans are still afoot to construct a large two storey department store and multi-storey car park on land to the north west of the lower retail tier. No tenant has yet been announced for this.

A visualisation of the department store © Peel Group / Rust Studios
A visualisation of the department store © Peel Group / Rust Studios

Additionally a seven unit fashion terrace is likely to be built to the south of the Sofaworks store. It is believed that leisure uses could also be incorporated within these plans.

Mr Whittaker continued:

Benefiting from its strategic central position on the City of Edinburgh bypass, with retailers reporting exceptional likeforlike sales growth, we feel Straiton is perfectly placed to position itself firmly in the upper tier of the UK retail hierarchy, bringing significant economic benefits to the wider Edinburgh area. We will now continue the exceptional momentum we have generated and focus on bringing more exciting retail and leisure providers to the park, developing our unbuilt planning consent and delivering against our business plan.

There have been numerous calls for a cinema to be built at the park but the Peel Group refused to comment citing commercial confidentiality.

Also believed to be in the pipeline is a new Homebase store in Next’s first unit on the lower tier. This has lain vacant since their departure and Homebase, soon to be branded ‘Bunnings’ following their acquisition by Australian company Wesfarmers, aim to make alterations to create a new external garden centre. They would also acquire the Brantano unit which will shortly become vacant after they entered administration last month. Unit 3A, the former Comet unit, is also undergoing refurbishment works for occupation by a new tenant.

It’s not all good news though, as the developer came under criticism from Damhead Community Council and others for removing a forested belt which shielded the park from the road. Peel says this will “enhance the visibility and prominence of the scheme”. Objectors argued that it was unnecessary and crude.

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