Weekly planning news from the central London boroughs

A weekly round up of the latest planning and property news from the central London boroughs


Property Funds World reports that the redeveloped One Gray’s Inn, a 21,000 sq ft office building in Holborn is now fully let to Hardwicke Chambers. The building has recently benefited from a substantial redevelopment, including new façades on all elevations, a rear extension and complete rebuilding of the central core, comfort cooling and one new floor. Rob Rooney of BNP Paribas Real Estate, who advised the Honorable Society of Gray’s Inn, said that this letting was a “great vote of confidence for the Central London & Midtown Office Market.” 

City of London

Bloomberg reports that Morgan Stanley is starting its search for a new London Headquarters. The U.S. bank has contacted a handful of developers as it weighs up its options for a potential move from its current premises in Canary Wharf. According to those involved, the firm is potentially interested in acquiring a smaller office space in the City of the London to add to a larger premises in the East London financial district.

City of Westminster

The Examination in Public for the Westminster City Plan 2019-2040 began on Monday (28 Sep) and will continue up to this coming Friday (2 Oct) before taking a week’s break and returning from Monday 12 October. To keep WPA members informed of key issues and upcoming sessions the Association will be sharing occasional short updates, with the next update on Friday which will summarise the end of the first important week.

The Evening Standard reports that Westminster’s economic recovery suffered another setback last week as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a range of new Covid restrictions, including curfews for the hospitality sector. The day after the Prime Minister announced the measures, the number of people in the West End was down 18 per cent on the same day the previous week. In Piccadilly Circus, footfall was down 26 per cent according to figures from the Heart of London business group. Restaurants also saw a sudden drop with revenue down 20 per cent yesterday compared with the previous week at D&D London, the capital’s biggest fine dining group. Westminster council leader Rachael Robathan reaffirmed the borough’s commitment to supporting residents and local businesses, as they try to navigate these new restrictions.

Property Week reports that the average financial cost of occupying an office in the UK has fallen for only the second time since records began, a leading agency survey reveals. The figure fell 1.6% over the 12 months to June 2020 for 20-year old buildings and 1.3% for new build offices. This marks only the second time the costs of office occupation have fallen year-on-year in Lambert Smith Hampton’s (LSH) total office costs survey (TOCS) since the financial crisis in 2008. The figure marks a stark change form the 3.6% increase in costs for the year leading up to June 2019. According to the TOCS, the main drivers for the overall drop in average costs were attributable to items such as furniture and insurance, rather than an actual decline in net effective rents.Property Week reports that retail property industry trade body Revo has warned that rent arrears could pass £2bn after today’s rent quarter day. Revo’s chief executive Vivienne King said its members are braced for a “hugely damaging” rent quarter day as the industry prepares to take in less than 50% of rent that is due. In the first and second quarters of the year, a total of £1.5bn in rent has been unpaid to property owners. King said the government’s decision to extend the moratorium had “fuelled the confidence” of well capitalised retailers to exploit the system when they can afford to pay its rent.

Westminster City Council is extending the temporary measures it put in place to enable al fresco dining and hospitality across the city, including the West End, until the end of October. The scheme had been set to conclude at the end of this month but will now continue in its current form until 31 October. The measures are a key element of the council’s support for the hospitality sector and the extension follows engagement with nearly 1,400 residents and businesses that showed overwhelming support. The council has pledged to do all it can to help the local economy, whilst always prioritising safety.

Property Wire reports that Berlin-based investment company LINUS Capital has opened an office in Westminster. The company, which finances real estate projects through its self-managed £320m debt fund, has enjoyed great success in Germany in recent years. LINUS is now exporting to the UK, with its new office opening in Mayfair. The UK headquarters will be led by managing directors Lukas Endl and Lee Abdul Sow. In 2020, LINUS Capital plans to invest up to £100m in the UK.

The Guardian reports that one of the biggest landlords in central London has said struggling high street businesses had paid less than half of the rent due since March. With footfall still down in the West End, the property firm, Shaftesbury, which owns swathes of fashionable districts including Soho and Covent Garden, said it had received only 41% of the rent for the six months to 30 September. With continuing uncertainty as a result of the pandemic, it is also struggling to relet flats, with a fifth of its 662 apartments currently lying empty. Due to the difficult year and uncertainty, the company said that it has decided not to pay a final dividend.


Property Week reports that Telereal Trillium has sold Hackney TSCV, a 1.5-acre former BT depot site on Fish Island in Hackney Wick, to Taylor Wimpey. The site has planning permission, secured in December 2018 by Telereal Trillium, for 145 flats across four buildings, of which 50 will be affordable. The scheme also includes 23,000 sq ft of commercial space at ground level. The proposed development was designed by the architecture and interior design firm Carey Jones Chapman Tolcher.

Hammersmith and Fulham

South London Press reports that Yoo Capital and Astarte Capital Partners have bought Shepherd’s Bush Market and waived seven months of traders’ rent payments. The joint venture bought a 75.5% stake in the market land, with the remaining stake belonging to U+I group. One of their first actions has been to waive outstanding rent payments – a move which has been widely applauded by traders. Yoo Capital and Hammersmith and Fulham council have indicated that new homes could be built on an adjoining parcel of land between the market and Goldhawk Road, called the Old Laundry Yard. Yoo Capital has already invested £2b into property and other assets in the UK.


The Islington Gazette reports that Islington Council has won £826,000 from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to support people sleeping rough on the streets. This money will also go towards helping to pay for 93 units of accommodation for those in need, as well as providing them with access to emergency sites and support workers. The North London Housing Partnership, which Islington is a member of, also received £530,000 to support its work with homelessness, helping to provide emergency accommodation during the winter months.

Kensington and Chelsea

South London Press reports that proposals for north Kensington to get its own station on the long-delayed Crossrail project have been put back on track. Kensington and Chelsea council has confirmed that it is in talks with Network rail on producing a feasibility study that could lead to the “Kensal Portobello Station” being built. Canal Way, near the Kensington Gas Works and a Sainsbury’s superstore, is currently being eyed up as a potential location for the station. The council’s 2019 Local Plan refers to the area as the ‘Kensal Canalside Opportunity Area’ and suggests that 3,500 homes could eventually be built there.


Brixton Blog reports that South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLAM) are planning to demolish the existing Lambeth Hospital site and apply for planning permission to build a new housing development. The scheme includes a proposal for an 18 storey tower block with surrounding 9, 7, 6, 5 and 3 storey buildings. The NHS trust will move the current facilities to Denmark Hill, a new facility which is yet to be built. The scheme will provide 50% affordable homes, with 70% of those available for social rent. The plans will also include spaces for 1100 bicycles, as part of a drive to encourage greener transport in the borough.

Inside Housing reports that GLA funding has been withdrawn for three major council estate regeneration projects in Lambeth. Lambeth council has had long-standing plans to rebuild six of its housing estates; Knights Walk, South Lambeth, Westbury, Cressingham Gardens, Fenwick and Central Hill. GLA funding was previously in place for five of the regeneration projects – Central Hill being the exception, however a letter to a Lambeth councillor from deputy London mayor for housing Tom Copley, reveals that funding agreements have now been withdrawn for three of the estates, with grant still in place for the Knights Walk and South Lambeth schemes only. A spokesperson for Lambeth Council said it still intends to go ahead with the Fenwick, Westbury and Cressingham Gardens regeneration schemes, as they look to secure funding elsewhere. The schemes intend to deliver 1,306 new homes for the borough.

South London Press reports that Espalier Property Ventures is planning to build a long-stay hotel and flats at the site of a car-rental business in Kennington. The scheme will involve the demolition of Europcar’s rental buildings and carpark on Clapham road, which it will replace with a 142-room, five-storey aparthotel, eight flats and office space. The proposed aparthotel, set to be run by room2, will include in-room kitchen facilities and a café/cocktail bar open to guests and the public. There will also be a basement carpark, as required by Europcar for its rental vehicles.


London SE1 reports that plans to extend the Bakerloo line from Elephant & Castle to Lewisham and beyond – via the Old Kent Road – have been put on the backburner by Transport for London as part of a forthcoming comprehensive spending review. This comes as a significant blow to the council’s regeneration plans for the Old Kent Road area. The limitations of existing public transport in the borough means that only 9,000 of the 25,0000 new homes planned for the area can be built unless the new tube line is in place.   

Tower Hamlets

Architects journal reports that Tower Hamlets council have approved Roger Stirk Harbour + Partners’ (RSHP) application for five cylindrical buildings ranging from six to 13 storeys at the former Marian Place gas storage site in Bethnal Green, despite intense local opposition on heritage grounds. The site is being developed by St William, a joint venture between Berkeley Group and the National Grid and will have 35 per cent affordable housing by habitable room, as well as commercial space.


BDaily News reports that UK real estate asset management and development company, Quadrant, has teamed up with Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), the Canadian institutional investor, to acquire a 12-storey, 140,000 sq ft office building in Nine Elms Park in Battersea. The site has great development potential, located between the iconic Battersea Power Station and the US Embassy. The deal is expected to complete in December 2020 with construction works due to start in 2021 


Archdaily reports that the mayor of London has launched a new version of the housing design app PRiSM in collaboration with the tech-led design practice Bryden Wood and leading residential consultancy Cast. The freely available application will allow users to share expertise and use technology to transform the design process and get the city building the homes Londoners need. The first step towards a digital planning approach, the new features allow users to design their housing scheme in a 3D environment. The app also introduces details in building and neighbourhoods, local amenities, ecology (location and species of trees) and weather patterns, road information, transport infrastructure, and site accessibility as well as land classifications.

Property Week reports that the GLA and developer Mount Anvil have launched a housing mentoring scheme.  The mentorship programme, Makers & Mentors, will connect industry experts with those wanting to progress in the development and construction sector. It will include name-blind applications to remove unconscious bias and will provide an online platform to help people connect. Tom Copley, deputy mayor for housing at City Hall, said: “There are many issues facing the housing sector, from affordability to sustainability, cladding, accessibility and community development. To address these we need to champion diversity and ensure all voices are at the table. Recent history shows us that the more inclusive the workforce, the better the outcomes.”

Property Week reports that only 35% of the property industry has said that they are responding effectively to sustainability issues and priorities in light of Covid-19, according to a JLL survey. The poll conducted at JLL’s Reshaping a New World virtual panel discussion on climate change found that 63% of respondents said they were responding to sustainability issues but “could do better” while 1.5% said they were not responding to sustainability issues at all. During the discussion, director of sustainable business at JLL Emma Hoskyn said she found it “scary” how close 2030 is considering the scale of the challenge for the real estate industry.