Weekly planning news from the central London boroughs

This new digest has been prepared on behalf of London Property Alliance by Concilio communications consultancy as part of a service agreement to provide information for our members.

City of London

C.R.E Herald reports that LaSalle Investment Management and development manager M3 Consulting have secured a resolution to grant planning permission for the redevelopment of One Exchange Square in the City of London on behalf of Malaysian investor Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB). The proposed scheme transforms an existing 1980’s commercial building into a vibrant new occupier focused Office and Retail destination. PNB acquired One Exchange Square in 2012. The office space is fully occupied by European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Upon EBRD’s lease expiry in 2022, LaSalle, on behalf of PNB, will execute its strategic business plan to reposition the building into a resilient asset, committing to global ESG design Designed by Fletcher Priest Architects, the 13-storey scheme will deliver 422,000 sq ft of high-quality workspace and 15,000 sq ft of retail, fronting both Bishopsgate and the newly re-landscaped park at Exchange Square. With over 34,000 sq ft of external accessible space the building offers biodiverse terrace environments accessible from every floor.

The City of London Corporation has agreed to consult on a new draft Planning Advice Note looking at carbon considerations in major development schemes. The ‘Whole Lifecycle Carbon Optioneering’ guidance will assist with pre-application procedures and discussions, giving clarity of purpose to applicants and a framework to define reduced carbon footprints. It will be incorporated into a formal ‘Sustainability Supplementary Planning Document’ which will address issues such as carbon reduction, energy efficiency and climate resilience in the commercial built environment. A draft of the wider guidance is expected to be considered by the City Corporation’s Planning and Transportation Committee later in the year. The initial draft Planning Advice Note was approved today and will be consulted on for six weeks from mid-June.


City A.M. reports that popular tourist destination Camden Market is reportedly undergoing a quiet sale process, which could fetch its billionaire owner around £1.3bn. While Israeli magnate and Playtech founder Teddy Sagi is hoping to bag £1.5bn for the 16-acre estate – which includes three markets – he has not put a firm price tag on the deal, the Financial Times first reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The new owner of the estate, which spans Stables Market, Camden Lock and Buck Street, can expect to rake in around £72m a year in rent. Sagi snapped up the Stables Market site in 2014 for £400m, alongside restaurateur Richard Caring. And later bought Camden Lock market for around £70m to £90m. “It’s a very different proposition to just the old market,” said one person with knowledge of the sale, nodding to how many of the markets’ independent sellers have been replaced by larger brands over the years. Rothschild & Co has been appointed as a financial adviser on the deal, which features markets, leisure spaces, offices and homes.

Evening Standard reports that final designs revealed for £50m London version of New York’s park in the sky. Inspired by the New York highline, the project will turn disused railway viaducts into an elevated park if approved by Camden Council. London is one step closer to its own version of New York’s famous highline after final designs for the £50 milllion “park in the sky” were submitted to Camden planners. The ambitious new project aims to transform a three quarter mile stretch of redundant railway in Camden and Kings Cross into a linear elevated park expected to attract 1.5 million people a year. Its design is led by James Corner Field Operations, the practice behind the original highline in Manhattan, an urban greening project so successful it draws five million visitors a year and has been accused of being a catalyst for the area’s rapid gentrification. Camden-based practice vPPR Architects are also on the design team for the project which will be built in three phases. If approved, it will feature gardens and walkways eight metres off the ground, alongside seating areas, cafés, and space for arts and events.

Hammersmith & Fulham

Hammersmith & Fulham Council is now giving keyworkers the first chance to buy and rent homes across the borough. It’s thanks to our H&F Home Buy scheme, which aims to support local people on modest incomes, with local key workers prioritised amongst them, across all of their schemes. The key workers can work towards owning their own homes by benefiting from the London Living Rent, so they can save up for a deposit. “Having a secure, stable home is something everyone deserves,” said Cllr Frances Umeh, H&F Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness. “And our Home Buy scheme means that those who need support getting on the housing ladder can access it.” The Home Buy process includes assistance for residents at all stages of the home-buying process. Keyworker Catherine, 48, a teacher at West London Free School in Hammersmith, recently bought a one-bedroom flat in White City, through H&F Home Buy and the council’s equity share scheme. “I heard about the scheme through a colleague who also teaches in H&F,” Catherine said. “I was previously renting and couldn’t afford to buy an entire flat or even a shared ownership property by myself.


KPF reports that the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has approved the KPF-designed Vinegar Yard planning application. The major life-sciences led, mixed-use development – designed in partnership with CIT Developments for St Thomas Bermondsey Limited – is one of the first buildings within the SC1 Life Science and Innovation District at London Bridge. Vinegar Yard is designed to accommodate flexible medical use and to support the emerging Guy’s and St Thomas’s medical and research hub, alongside retail, commercial and affordable workspace. A new urban garden and additional public realm improvements will contribute to Southwark Council’s ongoing work to improve connections across the borough and regenerate the wider area. KPF brought extensive experience of successful life sciences-led development around the world to the UK, working on this key project at London Bridge and also at Canary Wharf, where KPF was recently appointed as the architect of Europe’s largest commercial lab.


Property Week reports that Grosvenor Property UK (GPUK) is rolling out a biodiversity strategy that it claims will create significant biodiversity net gain across the firm’s UK’s portfolios. GPUK said the strategy committed it to a 20% biodiversity increase on managed green space and 100% rise by 2030 in developments using DEFRA’s Biodiversity Metric 3.0, by creating living roofs, wildflower-rich grassland and wildlife-friendly planting. The company said the “creation and management of a wide range of habitat types, providing food and shelter for priority species”, was at the heart of the strategy, and added that ‘valuing nature’ was identified as one of its four green goals in 2019. “The new strategy sees the business responding to the need to restore ecosystems, combat the climate emergency and halt the decline of the UK’s wildlife,” said the firm. “Beyond the direct benefits of reversing biodiversity loss, integrated strategies like those proposed here can aid urban climate resilience, helping to regulate urban heat island effects and mitigate flood risk.”


Property Week reports that Berkeley has appointed Michael Dobson as chairman. Dobson will join the board and nomination committee immediately as an Independent non-executive director. He will assume the role of non-executive chairman of the company and chairman of the nomination committee when Glyn Barker steps down at the group’s AGM on 6 September. Barker was appointed chairman in July 2020 for a period of two years to oversee the transition of the board following the death of the company’s founder and previous chairman, Tony Pidgley.

Property Week reports that the property industry has reacted with mixed views to the prime minster’s announcement that he will extend the Right to Buy scheme, where council tenants can buy their own homes. Reports have emerged that the PM is preparing to confirm the extension for housing association tenants and review the mortgage market to reduce the deposit needed to purchase a council home. Housing secretary Michael Gove told ITV news the scheme should not deplete social housing stock, insisting that one council home should be built for every one that is sold off. He told Sky News: “One of the things we’re looking at is a way people can save explicitly for home ownership. We are looking specifically at a saving vehicle in order that people [on benefits] can save for that deposit.” “It will come from the overall parcel, the overall envelope of government spending. We expect that we will cap the number who will be able to benefit from this initially, and then it will grow over time.” Some in the property industry have welcomed the news, claiming it will help drive home ownership.

Property Week report that in a highly critical report, the PAC said the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) had finalised the principles for awarding the first round in its flagship £4.8bn levelling-up fund only once it knew the identities and scores of the 170 shortlisted bidders. Dame Meg Hillier MP, chair of the PAC, called the process “partisan”, adding that the lack of transparency was a clear concern and that the department had “past form” in its grant handouts. She told Property Week: “We raised this with the Town’s Fund; it was quite evident that there was some definite intervention at that stage.” Last year, the PAC raised queries about the majority of the 45 places receiving £1bn Town’s Fund grants were in Conservative constituencies. “Everything’s political in a sense,” Hillier added. “It is obviously inevitable that any government running for election will have its manifesto promises. But the question is whether the politics then gets into the process, and the process needs to be fair and transparent.”

Property Week reports that the office market has been judged as having the worst ESG performance in the real estate sector, whilst industrial properties are seen to be leading the way, according to new research from Deepki. Property Week can reveal that Deepki has found just 44% of the industry see office real estate as having a positive ESG performance, whilst logistics was just behind with a score of 47%. The industrial (61%), leisure (61%) and retail (60%) sectors boasted the highest number of positive responses, according to Deepki’s research. The ESG data intelligence firm had surveyed 250 European pension fund managers in the UK, as well as Germany, France, Spain and Italy, with a combined AUM of €402bn, and asked them to rate the ESG performance of eight commercial property sectors. Respondents rated the sectors from ‘very good’ to ‘very poor’ before Deepki calculated an average ‘total positive rating’. Close behind the two front runners, the care home and social housing sectors both scored a 53% positive rating, while hotels saw 52% of respondents describe it as having a positive performance. In the survey, logistics received the most negative views of its ESG performance (23%), while just 15% of respondents rated office properties as performing ‘very positively’ in the ESG department.

The Guardian reports that Londoners are working from home mainly to avoid the time and cost of travelling to the office, according to a study that shows most believe they are unlikely to return to five days in the office again. Cuts to public transport and the high cost of fares act as a major deterrent to workers making daily trips to the office, while traffic jams and the soaring cost of petrol and diesel, which hit a fresh peak this week, make commuting by car unattractive, the survey found. Only 10% of the workers said they thought they would return to the office full-time compared with 73% who told researchers from King’s College London that working from home at least one day a week would be a permanent feature of modern life.

City A.M. reports that Titan housebuilder Barratt is planning to begin a search for a new chairman, with City grandee John Allan to step down. According to reports by Sky News, Allan, who also chairs the country’s largest supermarket, Tesco, is readying to hand over the reins of the construction giant. Barratt has reportedly asked headhunters at Russell Reynolds Associates to find a successor to Allan. The recruitment process is unlikely to be completed until next year, Sky News reported. However, a source told the news organisation that the company’s annual meeting next year appeared to be a logical timeframe. It comes as some housebuilders in the UK have expressed disdain for a £3bn building safety levy, in addition to other contributions to repair unsafe buildings.