Deal agreed between the Eastgate Centre and Basildon Health Centre

The deal will transform the former Debenhams into a pioneering, all-inclusive healthcare facility.

This is brilliant news for Basildon and a further example of the evolution of anchor occupiers within Shopping Centres.

We have long talked about the importance of diversification as a key future strategy to develop different reasons for customers to visit and the also marking the role that a shopping centre plays in the community. Blended-use environments will allow retail, residential, hospitality, and healthcare to overlap. Retail will continue to be the connective element but as a local hub, it will be a place to have access to vital, everyday services: community healthcare, access to fresh food, gyms and education.

This is something that we are seeing on a massive scale in the US.

For owners of redundant department stores in the UK, planning and investment takes time but we are definitely now seeing a move from interest in doing things to actual action!

Hammerson said last year that it expects as much as 1/5th of its portfolio to switch to other uses, including healthcare, hospitality, and workspace.

At the same time, The Shopping Centre for Health Report identified a potential need for 1.25M m² of healthcare spaces.

The industry has had to totally rethink once dominant, monolithic, single use, privately owned town centre spaces, often designed on an American model of department stores, anchoring each end of the shopping centre (those occupiers often paying minimal rent) with standardised shop units located between.

Another additional healthcare example to Basildon, is Metrocentre, whereby the owners of the shopping centre have announced a new £20 million facility, a deal signed with Gateshead and Newcastle NHS Foundation Trusts, forming part of the House of Fraser store, it is reported that 140,000 diagnostic appointments will take place each year.

The key to all of these developments will be the integration of the centre with the retail and leisure element, alongside accessibility for customers.

The importance of the interface with the rest of the accommodation at Metrocentre is totally recognised, access from the first floor of the scheme will give people entry to the new facility through the Metrocentre Mall.

This is equally the case at Eastgate, Basildon with entrances to the healthcare facility mirroring the former department store on both levels. The development will re-establish the link between the bus and train stations to Eastgate and beyond to Town Square, opening itself out to the wider community, critically with accessibility to customers through both the day and into the evening.

Access in the form of abundant car parking and links to public transport are what makes schemes such as Eastgate so attractive to healthcare providers.

For additional information on the scheme, please contact Damian (07974 085738) or alternatively our joint agents, Jamieson Mills.