By Max Clarke

Europe’s largest urban shopping centre is preparing for its grand opening, featuring a live performance by Nicole Scherzinger.

The 177,000 square metre Westfield Stratford City is home to some 300 predominantly high-end shops, with John Lewis and Waitrose as anchor stores. Opened by the Australian giant, Westfield Group (ASX: WDG), which boasts developments in 3 continents and assets of more than A$60 billion

The vast retail giant took its title as Europe’s biggest urban shopping centre from the 150,000 square metre Westfield Shepherd’s Bush, which had previously been touted as the continent’s largest.

Local retailers are not anticipating the level of disruption from the complex’ opening, due largely to the difference in clientele. Shops nearby are typically independent, catering for a lower budget than Westfield with its abundance of designer boutiques and champagne bars. The increase in footfall is likely to boost trade in the surroundings, and is not expected to have an overly disruptive effect on the nearby Stratford Market.

The £1.45 billion development has placed arguably a greater emphasis on regeneration of the long underdeveloped area by improving transport links and providing services to local communities. Aside from the 18,000 permanent jobs the complex is expected to provide, it will also add 6.6 million sq ft office space to a traditionally commercially devoid region.

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