BRENT CROSS CENTRE
North Circular Road and Hendon Way
London (Borough of Barnet), United Kingdom

Development of Great Britain's first regional-class, suburban-style mall was underway as early as 1963, but it would be nearly 20 years before the first such centre would begin trading to the public.


London's first fully-enclosed, post-war shopping precinct, ELEPHANT & CASTLE CENTRE, opened, in The Borough of Southwark ["suh-thirk"], in March 1965. Similar to BULL RING CENTRE (1964) in Birmingham, it was a vertically stacked, inner city retail hub.

Early proposals for an "out of town" shopping precinct, to be built in the northwestern outskirts of London, were met with a tremendous amount of opposition. It was thought that such a facility would take business away from "high street" (centre city) merchants. Moreover, potential traffic issues were cited as a reason for the rejection of development plans.

Nonetheless, by April 1970, approval had been granted for the construction of a north London out-of-town mall. Two major British department stores, John Lewis and Fenwick 
["fin-ik"], had signed on as anchors. 

The new complex, to be known as BRENT CROSS CENTRE, would be designed by London's Bernard Engels & Partners firm and be developed by the London-based Hammerson Properties Investment Trust, with financing provided by Edinburgh-based Standard Life Investments.

A 52-acre plot was acquired. This was located 5 miles northwest of the London urban core, at the junction of the Hendon Way and North Circular Road thoroughfares. The Hendon Greyhound Stadium had stood at the site since 1935. It was demolished in 1970. Johnsons of Hendon, a photographic supply factory, had also occupied a portion of the land parcel.

A (15,200 square foot) Waitrose supermarket became the first operational BRENT CROSS tenant, on February 3, 1976. An official mall-wide dedication was held March 2nd. The 799,900 square foot, 2-level complex was anchored by a 3-level (211,300 square foot) John Lewis and 3-level (173,600 square foot) Fenwick.

Among its 75 shops were WH Smith, Peter Lord Shoes, Ravel Shoes, Harry Fenton, Lord John, Spectra TV Rentals, Lilley & Spinner,  Dixons, Mothercare, Russell & Bromley, Boots, Benetton, C & A Modes and Intersport. A 3-level (76,800 square foot), London-based Marks & Spencer was a junior anchor.

The 25 million pound BRENT CROSS CENTRE was Britain's first out-of-town, United States-style shopping mall...and the nation's largest retail hub. It was also noteworthy for its extended shopping hours. Whereas standard "high street" shops closed by 5 pm, those in BRENT CROSS would operate until 8 pm, Monday thru Friday, and until 6 pm on Saturday. Sunday sales were first sanctioned in 1994.

Other mall-type centres were built on the periphery of Greater London. These included WOOD GREEN SHOPPING CITY (1981) {4.9 miles northeast, in the Borough of Haringey}, LAKESIDE CENTRE (1990) {22.5 miles southeast, in the Borough of Thurrock} and THE GALLERIA, HATFIELD (1991) {12.6 miles north, in the Borough of Welwyn Hatfield}.

BRENT CROSS CENTRE was given a major upgrade and expansion between 1994 and 1996. The 40 million pound project, envisaged by Manchester's Building Design Partnership, added 98,000 square feet of retail space, 10 stores and services, a 5-bay Food Court and multi-storey car park.

On the interior, glass domes, lighting, fountains, escalators and a "glazed scenic lift" (or elevator) were installed. US-based Talbots opened their first UK store. BRENT CROSS CENTRE now encompassed 897,700 lettable square feet and 115 shops and services.

A second expansion was proposed in 2003 but met a tidal wave of opposition. The proposal was subsequently dropped. A greatly revised plan, which was less automobile-centric, garnered initial approval in June 2010. Known as Brent Cross Cricklewood, the 4.5 billion pound endeavor would renovate and expand BRENT CROSS CENTER, adding over 800,000 lettable square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment venues. 


250 acres directly south of the mall would be redeveloped as a town centre, with a second commercial district, parks, office blocks, residential units, community centre, public library and National Health facility.

It is plausible that the development could be serviced by a new transit corridor; the North & West London Light Railway. Consisting of 4 routes and 34 station stops, the prospective transit line is modeled on the existing Docklands Light Railway in London. 


Although recommended by local organisations, the Light Railway has yet to gain support from the powerful Greater London Authority or developers of the Brent Cross Cricklewood project. 

The BRENT CROSS CENTRE revitalization is being designed by the CallisonRTKL and Chapman Taylor firms. Work is scheduled to commence in the summer of 2018, with partial completion of the project occurring as soon as 2022. The fully-realized, mixed-use facility will encompass approximately 1.7 million lettable square feet and 345 stores, restaurants and entertainment venues. 

Sources:

http://www.brentcross.com.uk
https://completelyretail.co.uk
http://retailproperty.cushwake.com
"The Brent Cross Shopping Centre - Characteristics & Early Effects" / I. Shepherd & P. Newby 
"Shopping, Place and Identity" / Peter Jackson, Daniel Miller, Michael Rowlands 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk
http://www.johnlewis.com
https://londonist.com
http://www.pastscape.org.uk
http://www.waitrosememorystore.org.uk
http://www.brentcrosscricklewood.com
www.chrismrogers.net 
https://fashionunited.uk
"Brent Cross" article on Wikipedia