Laing O’Rourke has been named preferred contractor for the vast retail extension of the Brent Cross shopping centre in London.

Joint owners Hammerson and Standard Life Investments have signed a pre-construction services agreement as part of a two-stage tender process for the main construction works expected to be worth £700m.

Laing O’Rourke will now finalise the design and procurement in order to enable a start on site in 2018.

The appointment of a contractor for the infrastructure works will made next year with Barhale, Clancy Docwra and Murphy all believed to be in the chase.

The regeneration of Brent Cross London will double the size of the existing centre to 2m sq ft of retail and leisure space.

This will include up to 150 new retail stores and 50 new restaurants, state of the art leisure and cinema offer, hotel accommodation and improved public spaces including a new town square.

The plans also include a relocated and enlarged bus station as well as improved transport and highways infrastructure.

The scheme is designed by award-winning architects, Callison RTKL and Chapman Taylor.

With a construction workforce that will peak at around 1,200 people, the delivery partners have agreed a work experience, apprenticeships and graduate development intake that will make Brent Cross an industry training ground, while also incorporating targets for local labour and supplier engagement.

Robin Dobson, Director of Retail Development at Hammerson said that Laing O’Rourke had a proven track record in delivering major retail and leisure projects like Trinity Leeds, Westgate Oxford and Edinburgh St James Quarter.

Liam Cummins, Head of UK Building for Laing O’Rourke, said: “Laing O’Rourke has the ability to drive certainty into the delivery programme through in-house technical expertise and procurement capacity, our integrated supply chain and advanced digital engineering and offsite manufacturing.”