Work is due to start soon on a £185million designer outlet village at The O2 .

The joint venture between the venue’s owners Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and Crosstree Real Estate Partners will “complete the circle” inside the tent with about 100 shops and restaurants planned.

Bosses are in the process of signing up a contractor and will launch their marketing campaign to attract brands into the space within the next few weeks.

They are aiming to open the retail centre, which will be similar to Wembley’s London Designer Outlet and Bicester Village in Oxfordshire, in 2017 with the hope of attracting shoppers there during the day.

A spokeswoman for The O2 said: “We are due to start work on site in May and will be launching our marketing campaign to retailers in May as well.

“The number of shops or brands is yet to be determined but potentially could be over 100 shops.

“There could be restaurants as well.”

She said the size of the development, expected to be around 204,000sq ft, was still to be confirmed but it would be self-contained and not affect the existing 370,000 sq ft of leisure and retail outlets within the tent.

Half of it will occupy an unused space on the upper level of The O2, originally built to house a casino, and the other half in a new build, double height space beyond the existing restaurants.

She added: “It will complete the circle around the arena.”

AEG was granted planning permission for the retail outlet village in 2013 from The Royal Borough of Greenwich. It had negotiated with Land Securities over partnering on the project but the deal fell through.

Mayfair-based real estate partner Crosstree bought a 50% stake in The O2 in September 2015.

Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking has now completed the syndication of the £185million debt facility to fund the designer outlet.

Half of the debt has been syndicated to Industrial and Commercial Bank Of China’s London branch. The remaining 50% has been retained by Lloyds Bank.

In a statement it said: “The project, which is due to be completed in 2017, will be the most significant development at The O2 since the former Millennium Dome was converted into the world’s most successful concert venue – in terms of visitor numbers - in 2007.

Bank Of China spokesman Andrew Day said: “The O2 is an icon of London and has grown to become one of the world’s leading venues.

“We are delighted to help finance the designer retail outlet at The O2 and this deal again demonstrates our continued commitment to the UK real estate market.”

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