Weekly planning news from the central London boroughs

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


Construction Enquirer reports that GRAHAM has landed a £22m contract from the London Borough of Camden to reclad one of the Chalcots Estate towers. Due to its different structure a separate two stage design and build contract has been awarded for Blashford Tower so that work can start on the building sooner than if it was part of the overall Chalcots buildings tender. In the first stage – beginning next month – Council Officers will work with GRAHAM and technical experts to finalise the design details and test how the works will be carried out. In the second stage of the contract – from July 2022 to December 2023 – the contractor will source materials for the works, set up the site and carry out the works, including installing an A1 rated cladding system, new windows, curtain wall and the other works needed to deliver the highest standard of safety for residents.

City of London

The Guardian reports that tucked away in a courtyard in the City of London, surrounded by glass, steel and concrete skyscrapers, is a historic and religious gem: the oldest synagogue in the UK. It is now at risk, according to Rabbi Shalom Morris, owing to plans to build two enormous towers that will block natural light from reaching the synagogue. “We will be a mushroom in the forest,” Morris said. The proposals, for an office block of 48 floors and another of 21, are due to be decided on by the City of London Corporation next month. About 1,500 letters of objection have been sent from heritage organisations, academics and multi-faith groups, raising concerns about the impact on the only non-Christian house of worship in the City of London.


Property Week reports that Great Portland Estates (GPE) has pre-let 121,800 sq ft to telecommunications company Inmarsat Global Limited at 50 Finsbury Square. The frim is undertaking refurbishment to extend the office floor plates and create a large reception. The building, which is scheduled for completion late 2022, is expected to be GPE’s first certified as new zero carbon. Marc Wilder, leasing director of GPE, said: “Inmarsat is the world’s leading global mobile satellite communications company and we are delighted to welcome them to our latest development. We are working with their team to create a world class London headquarters that responds to the needs of this forward-thinking organisation by providing an amenity-rich environment, combined with smart building technology powered by our award-winning app, sesame.”


Construction Enquirer reports that the housing association Peabody has appointed Durkan to begin construction of a housing scheme in Lambeth, south London. Over the next three years, Durkan will construct 134 new homes and over 45,000 square metres of commercial space at Higgs Yard, a former industrial site at Loughborough Junction. The scheme represents an £85m investment into the area and will be 50% affordable homes. Tom Williamson, Senior Development Manager at Peabody, said previous plans had been reworked for a better mix of one, two and three-bed homes and incorporate a communal landscaped podium deck at the heart of the development and a roof terrace sitting on the 17th floor.

Property Week reports that Landsec has exchanged contracts for the forward purchase of Oval Works, a standalone office building that forms park of Berkeley’s oval Village in Lambeth, south London. Berkely’s mixed-use regeneration of the site behind the oval cricket ground will create 1,300 homes, with Oval Works taking 76,800 sq ft. The building will have seven floors and house 750 employees. Marcus Geddes, managing director London at Landsec, said: “This is an exciting milestone in the delivery of our strategy as we seek to optimise our London office portfolio by reinvesting capital into locations and products that can deliver strong returns.


Architects Journal reports that since the government has announced that 14 councils will receive £50,000 to apply the National Model Design Code (NMDC) in their area over a six-month period, Farrells, PRP and Gbolade Design Studio and Exterior Architecture has been appointed by Southwark Council (the only London authority amongst the 14 participating councils) to advise councils testing a new national design code that prioritises ‘beauty’. Aspects for consideration include street character, building type and façade, and environmental, heritage and wellbeing factors.

Architects Journal reports that The Twentieth Century Society has criticised BDG Architecture + Design’s plans for a major upgrade of the former Financial Times headquarters on London’s South Bank.  In an objection letter, Twentieth Century Society commented on the refurbishment  and extension of the site: ‘We feel the proposed rooftop and infill extensions will drastically alter the character and appearance of the building. The building’s proportions will be completely changed, its defining external features eliminated, and its overall size and bulkiness will increase.’ The plans also includes ‘dramatic’ improvements to the public realm by providing direct public routes between the building, and a new café on ground level. The development is set for approval at Southwark’s planning committee next Tuesday (7 September).

Tower Hamlets

EG reports that Far East Consortium and Sainsbury’s are preparing to lodge fresh plans for a larger scheme in the redevelopment at Whitechapel Square, E1, following various failed attempts. The pair will seek consent for 650 to 680 flats in nine buildings of up to 20 storeys alongside 200,000 soft of retail including new Sainsbury’s on the 4.7acre site.


Architects Journal reports that Sergison Bates has been given the final go-ahead to build a super-thin, 20-storey ‘pencil’ tower in Wandsworth, south-west London. The 68m-high residential tower for Baylight Properties was approved by Wandsworth Council’s planning committee May, but conditions in the section 106 agreement have only recently been signed off. The 13m-wide block at 86-96 Garratt Lane will provide 27 flats and on a plot currently used as a car park. According to the practice, the idea of a pencil tower emerged ‘in response the uniqueness of the site, to minimise the footprint and mass of the building so that it would have considerably less impact on the skyline than conventional neighbouring tower developments’.


Bisnow reports that Almacantar is on the verge of selling its Marble Arch Place mixed-use scheme for almost £290M to an Asian investor.ARA Dunedin Asset Management is in advanced talks to buy the scheme at a price that would reflect a 4% yield. Marble Arch Place will comprise 95K SF of office space, 54 luxury apartments, a new cinema and five ground-floor leisure units. Designed by Rafael Viñoly, the project overlooking Hyde Park is due to be completed this year and is one of the largest new developments in the West End of the past decade.


Property Week reports that London office buildings that achieve the highest sustainability standards can achieve up to a 12.3% premium in rents, research from Knight Frank shows. The study, which used rental data from Q1 2010 to Q1 2021 across 2,700 London assets, showed a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating, which recognises advanced good practice on issues including energy performance, and health and wellbeing, results in a 3.7% rental premium on average. The analysis also showed that a BREAAM ‘Excellent’ rating results in a 4.7% rental premium, while an ‘Outstanding’ rating – recognising the most innovative workplaces and achieved by less than 1% of assessed buildings – results in a significant 12.3% premium.