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Great Portland Estates PLC (GPE), has received the go-ahead from the planners for a 18,580 sq m (200,000 sq ft) leisure complex in Northampton town centre In line with government policy for town centre regeneration GPE plans to begin work on site this Summer (1998) with the demolition of the 1970s former Barclaycard headquarters building a pool hall, five restaurants, a pub, four retail units and a health & fitness studio, with an end value in the region of £25 million.

GPE has been reviewing its exposure to the leisure industry and feels the market is ripe to increase its investments in this sector which currently includes projects in Ashford and Harlow. its location alone provides us with a very secure investment Already we are in final discussions with a major cinema operator which will anchor the project and act as a catalyst in signing the other leisure uses.

With a huge residential area to the west and south of the site and being equidistant from the town centre and British Rail station the scheme is well positioned to capitalise on the town's growing population which is predicted to increase to 203,000 by the year 2,000. In addition, the complex will link directly into Market Square and the hub of Northampton's shopping and leisure offer.

Cluttons Daniel Smith's Quarterly Property Market Update urges property investors to adjust their thinking to the reality of a lower inflation and interest rate environment Cluttons Daniel Smith expects target rates of return to be trimmed back from their typical present levels of 10-12 per cent to levels of around 9 per cent per annum over a 5 to ten year time horizon . We believe that these high levels will become unsustainable Unless investors wake up to this reality .

The deadlock at present is being broken only by those entrepreneurial investors and property companies which are borrowing money cheaply and outbidding traditional funds forcing yields down, albeit marginally and at the fringes. Unless the majority follows suit Although there are no signs of a wholesale shift in attitudes at present, we expect some progress to be made by the autumn.

High Street rental value growth continues to rise, albeit at only 5.4 per cent pa on average, but the prosperous larger centres are still accounting for most of this growth Retail sales growth is slowing but the strength of a number of major retailers coupled with the success of the larger centres is maintaining the momentum in the sector . Space, condition, abundances, size and other specific data are amassed by the appraiser in the midst of an examination. General data is gathered from unique sources. The report highlights activities in the different sectors currently buoyant with central London profiting most as rental growth soars in excess of 20 per cent in some areas With financial and business services output still high at 7 per cent, and showing few signs of slowing the prospects for further growth, particularly in the South East are strong The prevailing cautious business environment is unlikely to allow rental values to reach unrealistic levels.