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Europe’s largest urban shopping centre and gateway to London’s new Olympic Park opens its doors to the public today.

Westfield Stratford City shopping centre in east London will be home to more than 300 shops, 70 restaurants, a 14-screen cinema, three hotels, a bowling alley and the UK’s largest casino.

Key retailers such as Marks & Spencer and John Lewis have taken outlets of more than 200,000 sq ft and, to date, 95% of the centre’s 1.9 million sq ft has been let.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who will help cut the ribbon at today’s launch, said: “Westfield’s Stratford City project is setting the pace for the transformation of east London. It is one of the most important legacies of the 2012 Olympics.

“It will create 18,000 jobs and, as a result of Westfield’s investment, have some of the most modern additions to London’s public transport infrastructure.”

Westfield Stratford City with the Olympic Stadium

Westfield Stratford City with the Olympic Stadium

LONDON (Reuters) – Property prices in some central London hotspots are set to more than double by 2016, driven up by a mix of factors including volatile financial markets and major new transport projects such as Crossrail, according to a report from estate agency Knight Frank.

Domestic and overseas buyers have flocked to the London residential market in recent years as they look for a safe place to park their money.

“It’s really seen as safe haven for global money. We ran some figures showing how prime property is doing in terms of asset classes … it beat the FTSE 100 tracker over the last 10 years by quite a long margin,” said Grainne Gilmore, Knight Frank’s head of UK residential research.

“It certainly gives gold a run for its money,” she added.

Meanwhile the Crossrail development, Europe’s largest infrastructure project, will link Heathrow west of London to the east of the city through huge new tunnels to be run under the city.

“Crossrail is a massive theme going through this … it’s going to change a lot of things. If you live in Barbican or Farringdon (adjacent to the City financial district) you’re going to be able to get to directly to three airports within minutes,” she said.

Crossrail

Crossrail

(Reuters) – The Bank of England will not raise interest rates from record lows of 0.5 percent until next October at the earliest but there is still only a one-in-three chance it will restart its asset purchase programme, a Reuters poll found on Wednesday 31st August.

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