The Glades Bromley – Did you know?

The Glades is synonymous with Bromley High Street. If you’re on foot, you rarely visit one without the other. But, when was it built and who actually owns it?

A brief history of The Glades Shopping Centre in Bromley

Bromley’s well-known shopping centre, “The Glades” opened on Tuesday 22 October 1991. Its name was chosen following a competition where Bromley residents were asked for suggestions for the new indoor shopping centre. The name was chosen to remember the history of Bromley as a largely wooded area before its urbanisation in later centuries. Hints of this can be seen both inside and out, with the balustrades on the balconies looking like trees and the car park railings mimicking fern shoots, to name a couple of examples

Although some assume that Bromley Council owns it, this isn’t the case. Having said that, as of writing, some sources say that the London Borough of Bromley does have a 15% stake in The Glades, with the remaining 85% being owned by the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC), which is a state-owned (Alaskan) asset management company. However, according to the APFC’s own website, the claim is that it owns the entire 100%. So, I suppose you could say that The Glades is sort of owned by the Government/people of Alaska!

Before the majority shareholding was bought by the APFC for £177 million in 2016, it was owned by Intu Properties plc (which was a British real estate investment trust) and Aviva. Those of you with longer memories may remember that the original Glades was actually renamed “Intu Bromley” in 2013, but reverted back to The Glades after the ownership transfer had taken place. Going off on a quick tangent; weirdly enough, we also sell blinds bearing the same, “Intu” name 🙂

The main entrance for The Glades Shopping Centre in Bromley High Street
Photo of The Glade’s main entrance in Bromley High Street by Stacey Harris, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

How big is it?

The Glades has around 135 shops, both large and small, that trade from a floorspace of 464,000 square feet, or 43,100 square metres. As of writing, you’ll find big names like M&S, H&M, Boots and River Island, but you’ll also find plenty of diversity in the numerous smaller shops as well down what’s called Regent Arcade, which is a parade of small boutique shops which runs from Elmfield Road near the street entrance to the lower mall.

It wasn’t always this big though. Work began in 2006 on a £25 million extension close to the centre’s main entrance with the demolition of two buildings on the high street along with several existing units within the shopping centre.

Then, in 2009, units 85 & 86 (River Island) got an upstairs extension. The mezzanine floor, originally staff and stock rooms, was extended to accommodate a bigger menswear section, with the staff room being moved to the ground floor. A few years later in 2016 there was the further addition of the Restaurant Terrace, which is where you’ll currently find food outlets like Wagamama.

If you want to go back before the shopping centre was even constructed, there’s a really informative Then and Now PDF by the Bromley Borough History Society that you can read/download, with some amazing old photos of how the High Street looked way before The Glades was constructed.

The upper level first floor of The Glades
Photo of the upper level of The Glades by Gordon Griffiths, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Hidden secrets of The Glades

There are at least a couple of things that you might not already know about The Glades

Wild Glades – The first being Wild Glades, which could be described as a micro-eco-system paradise (or re-wilding initiative) that’s located on the roof! According to Artecology, the organisation that worked helped design the eco-space, the goal was to create the world’s most wildlife-friendly shopping centre.

The first phase saw the completion of a rooftop wildlife reserve which included bird boxes, wild planting, insect hotels and solitary bee habitat along with a raft of other innovations. According to Artecology, the area can be seen from a viewing area that’s adjacent to one of The Glade’s main entrances although I haven’t seen it myself. The official Glades website does have a biodiversity page, but, at the time of writing, it appears to be incomplete and lacking detail although it’s still worth a visit if you want to see a few photos of Wild Glades.

An insect hotel

It’s also worth noting that in 2021, Wild Glades was the overall winner of the Big Biodiversity Challenge, with the judges noting that they:

“were impressed with the entrants’ approach to taking what may be seen as an industry-standard green roof and providing high-quality enhancements and follow-up monitoring to maximise the benefits of this space.”

They added that the project:

“has brought nature to people who may not have had this opportunity and the continuing monitoring and engagement will continue to educate and enthuse the residents of Bromley and visitors to the Glades.”

Safe Sanctuary – The popular shopping centre is also home to the Safe Sanctuary, a place you can go to if you begin to feel overwhelmed and anxious due to all the hustle, bustle and bright lights. To get assistance, all you need to do is approach a member of staff and ask for their help.

An escalator leading from the ground floor to the upstairs, mezzanine floor inside The Glades
One of the escalators in The Glades shopping centre, Bromley –
cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Stacey Harris – geograph.org.uk/p/1813599

About Us

Although we’re based in Dartford, we’re always working in and around Bromley and the surrounding areas installing our custom, made-to-measure window blinds. On our travels, we see all sorts of sights and love to research and write about them in our website’s news section.

If you’re keen to learn more fascinating facts about the area, then you may also like to read about how H.G. Wells was born in Bromley (but hated the place!). We’ve also written about the History of Bromley & Sheppard’s Colleges as well as some interesting info on Bromley’s very own Palace.

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