Weekly planning news from the central London boroughs

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


Architects Journal reports that Burwell Architects has comprehensively refurbished the institute’s library and workplace facilities, to improve occupant comfort, accessibility and security as well as the environmental performance of Denys Lasdun’s celebrated 1976 Brutalist building, which is on Russell Square. The upgrade removed fixtures and fittings that had accumulated over time to showcase the original exposed concrete finishes, and reorganised the library, administration and academic research spaces. A discreet but comprehensive renewal of the building’s services aimed to improve occupant comfort and sustainability, while maintaining and enhancing the character of its historic fabric.

Architects journal reports that DSDHA’s mixed-use proposals, drawn up for Camden Market owner LabTech, centre around the demolition of 17-storey 1960s High Holborn hotel block Selkirk House and its replacement with a 21-storey office block with new homes on its upper levels. However, government heritage adviser Historic England has issued a strongly worded call for DSDHA-designed proposals for a hotel redevelopment in central London to be either substantively revised or rejected by planners. Historic England principal inspector of historic buildings Michael Dunn said: ‘Historic England is not persuaded that the justification for the harm has been demonstrated, nor that significant public benefits could not be achieved with a scheme that causes much less harm to heritage significance.’

Architects Journal reports that AXA IM Alts has let the entire first floor of One Smart’s Place in the West End to Indeed Flex (formerly Syft Online), on a five-year lease at £79/sq ft. The 5,500 sq ft office space was fitted out for Indeed Flex earlier this year. Located close to Covent Garden, One Smart’s Place is a mixed-use development comprising seven upper office floors with terraces totalling 38,431 sq ft and two dual-use office/retail units on the ground floor of 4,513 sq ft. It has achieved BREEAM ‘Excellent’ and Wiredscore ‘Gold’ ratings.

City of London

Architects Journal reports that Richard Gilbert Scott’s 1970s West Wing extension to the City of London’s Guildhall complex has been Grade II listed in recognition of its elegant Modernism and ‘sensitive response’ to historic surroundings. Historic England said the West Wing had three basement levels and six floors above ground level, with the upper floors containing offices, committee, dining and lounge rooms and overnight accommodation for councillors as well as access to the Aldermen’s Court. Most of the ground floor and basement levels contain the Guildhall Library and archives. It said the West Wing was ‘an elegant example of civic architecture in a Modernist idiom, balancing a sensitive response to historic context and setting with a strong inherent architectural identity’.

Construction Enquirer reports that Real estate company Brockton Everlast has submitted plans for a ‘greened’ 23-storey office building in the Square Mile. The proposed 117m tall building will be built at 115-123 Houndsditch next to the Can of Ham building. The developer says the 720,000 sq ft project, which has been designed by architect AHMM to deliver exemplary green credentials, will involve a total investment of over £320m. Innovative sustainable technologies will be included throughout the building to deliver market-leading performance in terms of both embodied and operational carbon, significantly reducing on-site carbon emissions by 44% against the Part L 2013 baseline and achieving a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ rating.


Hackney Citizen reports that Campaigners fear Dalston is at risk of gentrification and are urging residents to tell council bosses what they think of a blueprint for the area. The Dalston Plan include more than 600 new homes, with a minimum of 50 per cent of them affordable, and a £1 million investment for the historic Ridley Road Market. But the Morning Lane People’s Space (MOPS) campaign fear that some people could be priced out and are stressing the need for homes and shops that residents can afford. They said: “We believe the main objective should be that people who live in this area, including those who have done so for generations, and their children, can afford to continue to live here. And that they can afford to rent workspace and pay the business rates.” Campaigners also fear the proposals will replace “inclusive and affordable retail with exclusive and unaffordable shops, cafes and restaurants”.

Hackney Citizen reports that Hackney Council has announced that the popular Kings Hall Leisure Centre is to receive £5.75 million for repairs and future refurbishments. The council-operated centre on Lower Clapton Road will get £3.1 million for structural fixes and a further £2.65 million to carry out surveys and develop longer-term plans. Town Hall health and leisure boss Cllr Chris Kennedy said: “We must ensure our leisure facilities continue to meet the demands and expectations of our community, especially with a growing population and reducing resources.”

Hammersmith and Fulham

Building Design reports that Hammersmith and Fulham Council has announced plans to save 80% of the cost of stabilising Hammersmith Bridge by replacing a £30m Pell Frischmann scheme with a cheaper one by Mott MacDonald. The council said that Mott MacDonald’s £6m solution would be “technically superior, implemented more rapidly and more cost efficient”. The Mott MacDonald plan will see the bridge’s bearings replaced by jacking using the pedestals themselves, which will be strengthened beforehand. The council expects the bridge to remain open for pedestrians and cyclists for the “vast majority” of the works, which it said will be completed in under a year.

Tower hamlets 

Property Week reports that the London Borough of Tower Hamlets has granted approval for Urbanest’s student residential-led, mixed-use scheme at 2 Trafalgar Way, on the edge of Canary Wharf, London. The scheme, designed by Apt, will comprise three towers of 28, 36 and 46 storeys providing 1,672 student beds and 80 apartments, as well as 41,000 sq ft of commercial office space and ancillary residential, indoor children’s soft play-space and retail. The proposals also include the provision of around 1,500 cycle spaces across the site. Urbanest development director Anthony Mellalieu said: “This is an excellently located site for students, with lots on in the local area and only a short walk or cycle to Canary Wharf, and a quick tube ride into central London. We look forward to starting construction and proposed opening in time for the 2025/26 academic year.”


Architects Journal reports that Melvyn Caplan, who spearheaded the project to build the much-maligned 25m-tall temporary hill at the end of Oxford Street, has immediately stepped down from his role at Westminster City Council. According to the council’s leader, Rachael Robathan, the budget for the project, including construction, operation and eventual removal in January 2022, had risen from £3.3 million to £6 million. In a statement released yesterday (12 August) Robathan said: ‘With regret, I have accepted the resignation of my deputy leader, Melvyn Caplan, who led the Mound project. We have also instigated a thorough internal review to understand what went wrong and ensure it never happens again.’

Property Week reveals that Old Park Lane Management (OPLM) has received planning consent from Westminster City Council for Baola Properties to create an office development in Westminster. The 126,000 sq ft office development at 7 Millbank, Westminster, will be OPLM’s first carbon-neutral-in-use development in London and the development will replace an existing nine-storey building currently occupied by the Parliamentary Estate. Tim Sketchley, chief executive at OPLM, said: “We welcome this positive planning decision, which allows us to create an environmentally sustainable building with modern, adaptable workspace and amenity for generations to come. As our first carbon-neutral-in-use development, it sets a standard for the future, which we know is important to contemporary occupiers.”. The demolition is due to commence in autumn 2022. Completion is scheduled for late 2025.

Estates Gazette reports that proposals for a major redevelopment of the former Debenhams store on Oxford Street, W1, have been lodged with Westminster City Council. The application for the empty flagship, at 334-348 Oxford Street and owned by Ramsbury Property International Holding, includes adding two additional storeys to the property. The scheme, designed by AHMM, will deliver around 376,600 sq ft of grade-A, class E employment floorspace, largely for office use. It will also provide some 72,390 sq ft of retail on the basement, ground and first floors, and around 14,300 sq ft of flexible class E floorspace along Henrietta Place and Marylebone Lane. The existing property has seven storeys, divided into 273,400 sq ft of retail space and 88,590 sq ft of office floorspace.

Property Week reports that Investec Real Estate has loaned Fairway Capital £16.4m to fund the acquisition and redevelopment of 4 Wilton Crescent, a luxury residential property in Belgravia. Leconfield Property Group, Fairway’s development partner, will redevelop the 9,000 sq ft property into a luxury home with featuring five ensuite bedrooms, staff accommodation, leisure facilities including a swimming pool and garage parking for two cars. Fairway said the scheme will have a GDV north of £30m and will complete in 2023.

Property Week reports that BNP Paribas and DekaBank have provided a new, five-year £120m loan secured on The Point, Paddington, a 233,539 sq ft HQ multi-let office building in central London that was purchased by Tishman Speyer in 2014. BNP Paribas, London Branch and DekaBank Deutsche Girozentrale have acted as mandated arrangers and co-underwriters on the new loan financing provided to the joint venture, led by the Tishman Speyer European Core Fund.