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Capacity of The Lanes shopping centre in Carlisle could be increased

Investment to increase capacity at Carlisle’s Lanes shopping centre is on the cards following a change of ownership.

David Jackson photo
David Jackson, of The Lanes

It emerged last summer that Aviva Investors had agreed to sell the 465,000sq ft complex to the real-estate manager F&C REIT for £65m.

David Jackson, commercial manager of The Lanes, expects the deal to be completed in the next few weeks.

He said: “It’s a new owner and they’re going to have new ideas.

“We are hoping there will be some investment.

“We know we have demand for space beyond that we can satisfy. Some of it is from existing stores who would like much more space than they have.”

Mr Jackson does not expect F&C REIT to embark on a major new build, along the lines of the extension completed in 2000 that incorporated Debenhams.

He added: “It’s about how we make more of what we have, to see if we can manage the space better.”

The Lanes, which opened in 1984, was built by Carlisle City Council in partnership with insurance giant General Accident which put up most of the £17m development costs in return for a 250-year lease.

It was taken over by Norwich Union, which later changed its name to Aviva.

Rental income is shared between the council and Aviva. The latter receives around £4.88m a year.

F&C REIT has a global portfolio of properties worth £7.2bn, including recently-acquired shopping malls in Middlesbrough and Barnsley.

Meanwhile, official figures show that retail sales fell in October as shoppers bought less food and clothing. Sales volumes fell 0.8 per cent on the month and were up by only 0.6 per cent on October 2011.

Both numbers were the weakest since April and worse than forecast.

Mr Jackson says Carlisle mirrored that trend but he is not alarmed by what could be just a blip.

He said: “September was a pretty good month. Retailers thought the worst was behind us but in October it fell away.

“Part of that was the fact that [school] half term was later than usual and the final three days fell in November. Half term is a peak week for us so that will have affected the figures.”

Have your say

There is nothing to attract me to Carlisle for shopping these days, at least at home shopping on the internet I don't have to trip over push chairs, be shoved about by people or have fag smoke blown in my face (and the food is better).

Posted by Kate on 29 November 2012 at 10:05

I am quite surprised by some of the comments on here (Davie S & Co). It is not as black & white as filling the empty units first. A retailer may be attracted to the Lanes however there may not be a suitable unit available. Size is a key issue and for the majority of major retailers there is not a large unit free unless you count the one vacated by JJB which is unattractive due to its lack of frontage & difficulty of access. The other issue is existing retailers requiring additional floorspace. It is not always a case of filling every empty unit before expanding. Or do you suggest that major retailers should be prevented from looking at the lanes until each of the few small units is filled?

Posted by Tony of Cockermouth on 24 November 2012 at 01:57

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