Empty Harrison Gibson Ilford store a ‘blank canvas’ for developers

A LANDMARK Ilford building is “a blank canvas” according to the firm which has bought it for a multi-million pound figure.

The century-old Harrison Gibson store has lay empty in High Road since April.

But the nine-storey building is now at the centre of negotiations with developers and commercial enterprises as its new owners look to redevelop the site, saying “nothing is off the table”.

Prudential Property Investment Managers (Prupim), sold the building for an undisclosed sum – believed to be in the region of �6million – to HG Trading Ltd last month.

Andy Shaw, investment consultant for property agents Martin Campbell – which is acting on HG Trading’s behalf – said: “They [HG Trading] are specialists in bringing troubled buildings, which this is, back to life.”

He added “We’re not ruling anything out.

“We’re seeing if there is any life left in the present building as a short term measure.

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“But if it’s beyond its economic life, we will redevelop the site.

“We could use the first floor and the ground floor for retail, and have residential, offices or leisure above.

“But we’re taking it slowly to make sure we go in the right direction.”

Previous owners Prupim were understood to be working with Berkeley Homes to create up to 250 homes together with retail space in the building.

But no planning permission was ever sought from Redbridge Council.

Paul Griffin, spokesman for Prupim, said: “We’re a property fund manager and we own quite a lot of properties around the world, so time to time we make decisions about what assets we intent to retain and what we intend to sell.”

Welcoming the news of fresh interest in the building, town centre manager Neil Davis said: “Harrison Gibson is a prominent site in the town centre and it was sad to see it close.

“I welcome the new owners to Ilford and look forward to the site being redeveloped.”

He added: “Any development in Ilford can only be a good thing in raising Ilford’s profile.”