Firm invests with Wilson Bowden in long-awaited Lanarkshire town centre scheme

Richardsons Capital has taken a 50% stake in the development of a £600m new town at the former Ravenscraig steelworks in Scotland.

The Black Country-based company, set up by twin brothers Roy Richardson and the late Don Richardson, has entered into a joint venture with Wilson Bowden to develop the second phase of Ravenscraig, which will comprise a new Town Centre.

Richardsons Capital replaces US company Mills Corporation, which was Wilson Bowden’s partner before Mills got into financial difficulties in 2006.

The site, which covers 1,100 acres in Lanarkshire, has been a long-running development opportunity. North Lanarkshire Council granted outline planning consent for the overall development in 2003.

Roy Richardson’s son, Lee, who now heads Richardsons Capital, said: ‘This is a big site and an exciting prospect for us. Millions have been spent on reclamation, and now it is all hands on deck.’

Richardsons Capital is well known for investing in retail and leisure schemes and is credited with creating some of the UK’s best-known developments, including the Printworks in Manchester and Merry Hill shopping centre in the West Midlands.

Lee Richardson added: ‘The current climate doesn’t affect Ravenscraig as it is a long-term project. We have been selling schemes in the UK but will continue to look at the UK, Europe and overseas to invest. We have schemes in Germany, Austria, France, Spain and Canada and will not shift from this strategy.’

The second phase will feature a mixed-use scheme comprising 1m sq ft of retail and leisure facilities in addition to 1,500 homes and 500,000 sq ft of office and industrial space.

Work is already under way on the £200m first phase, which includes a regional sports facility, a campus for Motherwell College and 850 homes.

Detailed planning consent for phase two is set to be achieved by the end of the year. Construction is hoped to begin by 2009 and the scheme is planned to open in 2012.

Jim Fitzsimons, Wilson Bowden development director, said: ‘It has always been our plan to seek a partner for this. We had negotiations with Mills Corporation but, with its demise in the UK, we looked elsewhere.’

He added: ‘This is about creating a destination because the local catchment area is not strong. We will be talking to many international operators in leisure and retail. There is a pent-up demand for decent retail.’

Architect HOK has been selected to develop draft concepts for the town centre along with adviser Cushman & Wakefield and Glasgow-based retail specialist Hamilton Glen.