A weekly round up of the latest planning and property news from the central London boroughs
Construction Enquirer reports that HS2’s Mace Dragados joint venture has gained planning to build the 6-storey combined site accommodation and skills training centre on the grounds of the former Maria Fidelis School in Camden. The size and shape of the building was designed by Fraser Brown Mackenna Architects to ensure the HS2 site accommodation and Construction Skills Centre can be co-located on the site. The Construction Skills Centre located above the welfare facilities will be able to accommodate 150 students and 30 staff and will be run by Camden Council. It will incorporate workshop spaces, an IT room, classrooms and will house a range of technical equipment.
City of London
Architects Journal reports that PLP has completed the One Bishopsgate Plaza development, a 43-storey mixed-use City tower incorporating new public space. The tower houses a 237-room hotel, The London Pan Pacific, on its lower floors, with 160 apartments above. Amenities include the basement Pacific Ballroom, sited below the plaza, a wellbeing floor and gymnasium and a restaurant and cocktail bar. The adjacent 144-year-old Devonshire House has also been reworked and expanded, with shops, a restaurant and a cocktail bar sitting below a curved aluminium and glass free-spanning roof.
Construction Enquirer reports that the City of London has signed Osborne as main contractor for the challenging £21m refurbishment for the 1903 Grade II listed building at 84 Moorgate. The Electra House project will see the 54,000 sq ft building upgraded to offices to suit a fintech tenant. There will be alterations to partitions, secondary glazing, new lifts, and roof top enclosures. The reconfiguration and updating of electrical and plant systems will provide modern efficient and reliable facilities and provide improved accessibility. The project will start in the new year and will be completed at the end February 2023.
Property Week reports that a Hong Kong buyer is set to make its UK debut by snapping up Charles Russell Speechlys’ headquarters at 5 Fleet Place for around £190m. The overseas investor has gone under offer to buy the building, which the owner China Poly, a state-owned Chinese business group, has reportedly been considering selling since January 2020. The asset was said to have hit the market for £180m, but competitive bidding pushed the price of the asset up to around £190m, a deal that would reflect a 4% yield if it goes through.
Estates Gazette reports that a Singaporean investor is posed to buy one of WeWork’s freehold office buildings in the City of London, in a deal which could net the co-working firm £150m. Sun Venture is under offer to buy 120 Moorgate, EC2, which WeWork occupies and owns via its property investment vehicle Ark. The deal has surpassed the £147m guide price for the site, which was put up for sale in the third quarter of this year through Knight Frank. It signals growing investor confidence in the flexible working company as a lead tenant.
Estates Gazette reports that Landsec is working up plans to demolish an office building at Red Lion Court, SE1, for a new 11-storey, net-zero development. The development, next to the FT Building, will offer retail and restaurant space on the ground floor. The offices on the upper levels will include affordable workspace. The office aspect will measure around 335,209 sq ft, while the retail and restaurant element will span 15,000 sq ft. Avison Young, which is advising Landsec on environmental matters, said a strategy would be developed that avoids reliance on energy generation from on-site combustion, explores passive and hybrid measures and considers battery storage technology.
Hammersmith and Fulham
Construction Enquirer reports that Imperial College London had submitted plans for several major high rise buildings to form a new town centre in West London. The ambitious One Portal Way residential-led scheme will deliver up to 1,325 new homes across a range of tenures to create a new town centre at the heart of North Acton. Designed by architects Pilbrow & Partners on behalf of Imperial College London, the proposals have been developed through detailed pre-application discussions with the London Borough of Ealing, the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, and the Greater London Authority. The hybrid planning application sets out a vision for eight major buildings in an area near the planned HS2 Old Oak station ranging between 6-55 storeys, stepping up to the northern and southern edges of the site.
Islington Tribune reports that campaigners have described housing providers as treating an overhaul of the Holloway Prison site as an “all you can eat buffet” while offering women’s groups “crumbs”. The renewed anger comes after the site’s developers, Peabody, submitted its application to build just under 1,000 new flats – including nearly 500 much-needed affordable family homes – at the former women’s jail. But the vision, submitted by Peabody on November 12, was immediately criticised by community groups who said their views had been completely ignored. Campaigners said they were “sickened” that the draft proposal submitted by Peabody offers the centre one floor and a shady garden. The space available won’t even be able to offer 40-something therapeutic services formerly available in the prison, Community Plan For Holloway (CP4H) group’s Niki Gibbs warned. They feel the less than 1500sqm proposed for the women’s centre falls far short of what is needed – which they felt was more like 4000sqm.
Kensington and Chelsea
Construction Enquirer reports that catalyst has confirmed Bouygues UK as construction partner on the next phase of the Portobello Square regeneration at the Wornington Green estate in North Kensington. Once complete, the Portobello Square regeneration project will deliver around 1,000 new homes, with no loss of social housing, new commercial and community spaces and 2.3 acres of new public park. In the mean time, Bouygues will start work on Phase 2b of the regeneration next June 2022 and this phase of the regeneration will deliver 230 new homes, including 108 homes for social rent alongside 11 homes for shared ownership.
Architects Journal reports that Southwark Council’s eight-home infill scheme for the 89-home Kingston Estate in Walworth was approved by its planning committee on the 19th of November 2021, despite opposition from existing residents. Residents submitted more than 40 objections to the scheme, pointing out the area was used as play space and allotments. One resident wrote: ‘Not only is the surrounding already very dense, but the space marked for infill on our estate is very small. Building there would strip our community of already rather modest green space we use for gardening and relaxation.’ In a statement, Cottrell & Vermeulen co-founder Richard Cottrell argued that scheme would also deliver a number of benefits to the wider estate, including improvements to the existing play space between Richmond House and Marshall House, new planting beds and new trees.
Architects Journal reports that Haworth Tompkins and Asif Khan working with Townshend Landscape Architects have submitted plans for 237 homes and a boardwalk and pergola at Canada Water in south London. The practices have submitted separate reserved matters applications for detailed designs relating to the £1 billion Canada Water development, which is being developed by British Land and was master planned by Allies and Morrison. Haworth Tompkins has designed three buildings containing 73 per cent affordable housing as well as community and commercial space at ground-floor level. The homes will include 19 studios, 67 one-beds, 101 two-beds, 46 three-beds and three four-beds and one five-bed.
City of Westminster
Architects Journal reports that Sadiq Khan has called in Squire & Partners’ designs for a cluster of high-rise towers on the site of the decommissioned Paddington Police Station after they were rejected by councillors. Councillors voted five to one to reject the application, citing concerns over the ‘excessive height and bulk’ of the 32-storey tower and its effect on Hyde Park, Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill – as well as four local conservation areas. But the mayor has now decided to call in the scheme, arguing that with 556 homes – including 210 affordable – the project would help reach the London Plan targets of 43,500 affordable homes a year.
Architects Journal reports that Marks & Spencer is facing a growing backlash over its plans to bulldoze its flagship marble Arch store on Oxford Street amid environmental and heritage concerns over the project. Westminster City Council approved plans to redevelop the 1930s Orchard House and two adjoining blocks last week, to be replaced by a 10-storey mixed-use building at 456-472 Oxford Street, W1. The new development will contain 39,500 tonnes of embodied carbon. Offering this much CO2 would require M&S to plant 2.4m trees, according to its own report on the project.
The Times reports that The Weston family has agreed to sell Selfridges to Thailand’s Central Group. The Canadian family, which had been seeking about £4 billion for the department store chain, is understood to have agreed terms with Central Group in the last few days and wants to close the deal by the end of the year.
Estates Gazette reports that confidence in London’s office market is strengthening among developers as new starts jump by almost 12% and speculative appetite rises. The average scheme size has risen by 28% in the six months ending September, highlighting a greater appetite from developers to take on risk for individual schemes. The number of new starts reached 3.4m sq ft in the six-month period, up from 32% year-on-year. Despite the rise in new starts, the volume of offices under construction dropped by 4.9% to 13m sq ft. Deloitte said this was likely to have been driven by the recent completion of high volumes of development that were held up by pandemic-led disruption.