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Costing 1.7bn, it is also the biggest venture in monetary terms that the development company, Westfield, has ever undertaken. Back in 2004, when Westfield bought the site, it must have seemed an irresistible way to ride the consumer boom. Given the current economic climate, it feels like an even more audacious move than the company may have intended. Household budgets are under pressure; consumer confidence is far from buoyant. Earlier this week, The Ernst Young Item Club, an influential forecasting agency, predicted that consumer expenditure on everything from food, clothes, holidays, household bills, home improvements and entertainment will fall by 1.2 per cent in 2009. This compares with an average annual growth of 3.5 per cent over the past decade.