The company credited with bringing big names stores to Bluewater has signed a multi-million deal to develop Croydon's largest shopping centre.

Australian company Lend Lease Corporation Limited has entered into a deal with developer Minerva to build the £200million shopping centre.

The centre which will front Katharine Street will have 130 stores and will be Croydon's third and largest shopping centre.

It is rumoured that John Lewis, which worked with Lend Lease at Bluewater, could be the anchor store in the development after Minerva scrapped its deal with Allders, as the department store chain went into administration in January.

The future of Allders' flagship Croydon store was secured in April when a bid by Jaeger fashion group, owned by entrepreneur Harold Tillman, was accepted.

Ross Taylor, chief executive officer for retail and communities at Lend Lease, said: "The renewal of Croydon town centre has long been regarded as one of the best retail development opportunities in greater London. It has a natural catchment of up to 1.5million people.

"Croydon has been identified in the London plan as the only opportunity area' in south London, and Park Place is a specified key site in the plan."

Planning consent for Park Place was granted in May 2004 and the council is now going through the lengthy process of issuing compulsory purchase orders to buy the premises of shops and offices located on the site of the proposed shopping mall.

Work on the shopping centre could start in 2007 with completion forecast in 2011.

The agreement, which is subject to Minerva shareholder approval, also gives Lend Lease the option to acquire 50 per cent of the shopping centre up to a year after it is built.