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

City A.M. reports that one in five Londoners would want to live in the City, with the figure rising to 28% among those aged 18-34, according to new research shared exclusively with City A.M. today. The Square Mile is closely followed by Kensington and Chelsea, with 18 per cent of Londoners choosing the leafy and exclusive borough as their most desired address, specialist mortgage lender Butterfield Mortgages found. The firm asked the respondents where their dream location would be to purchase a property in London, if money was no object, with the City emerging as their dream borough. The City of Westminster, occupying much of Greater London’s central area, including most of the West End, came third in Londoners’ list of dream neighbourhoods, chosen by 16 per cent. Elsewhere, 9 per cent selected Greenwich as their ideal borough, with Hammersmith and Fulham emerging in fifth place, according to 6 per cent of Londoners.

City A.M. reports that office take-up in the City of London office take-up reached 714,683 sq ft in May, which is the highest monthly take-up by volume since December 2021, and the most number of deals by number (36) since March 2021, real estate giant Savills said this morning. Take-up for the year-to-date has now reached 2.3m sq ft across 151 deals, 70 per cent up on the same point in 2021 and 5 per cent up on the 10-year average. May’s deals follow strong activity in the spring, which has led to the supply of office space in the City to fall for the third consecutive month. Available space is now down 2 per cent on April, to 12.7m sq ft, and the vacancy rate has decreased 20 basis points to 9.1 per cent. According to Savills, the average prime rent in the City has therefore now reached a new record of £84.24 per sq ft.

Property Week reports that Harris Associates and Simmonds Heath have acquired 50 Cannon Street, London EC4 for £30m on behalf of a European private investor. The seven-storey office building is opposite Bloomberg’s headquarters in the City of London. Harris Associates said the property offered a “short-term income profile with active asset management and multiple value-add opportunities”. Jonathan Harris, chief executive and founder of Harris Associates, added that 50 Cannon Street was “a rare freehold in the City of London, making this an extremely attractive investment opportunity – the acquisition of the asset shows positive sentiment in the current office market”.

Property Week reports that Cain International has agreed a £86m loan with two developers to pave the way for the development of a 95,000 sq ft office development at Fetter Lane near Farringdon. The loan deal has been struck with development partners BauMont and YardNine, which acquired the asset, 100 Fetter Lane, in January 2021. Planning consent for the 12-storey development was granted in September 2021. The scheme will comprise modern office spaces, 8,000 sq ft of roof gardens, a new pedestrian route and a garden square at ground level, plus a new café. The building, located in City Midtown close to Farringdon and the newly opened Elizabeth line, will be renamed ‘Edenica’ and is targeting BREEAM ‘Outstanding’. Construction work has commenced on site and the scheme is due for completion in summer 2024. Tanja Yerolemou-Ennsgraber, senior vice-president of real estate finance at Cain International, said: “We are excited to partner with an experienced sponsor and developer duo, joining their journey to deliver a best-in-class office scheme.
City A.M. reports that the City of London Corporation is urged to reconsider an earlier decision to demolish historic buildings, including the Museum of London, in the capital’s Barbican area. A campaign has been launched. The City of London Corporation has submitted plans to demolish Bastion House and the Museum of London, replacing both with a 780,000 square feet office block development and relocating the museum. However, campaign group Barbican Quarter Action has written an open letter to the corporation urging them to reconsider the plans due to the economic and environmental problems it would create, which include creating a net increase in CO2.

Property Week reports that the Russian owner of the Evening Standard is set to move the London newspaper from Kensington’s Northcliffe House to the Alphabeta Building on the other side of central London in Finsbury Square. The Evening Standard is leaving its Derry Street home of 34 years, where it shared space with newspapers owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust. Property Week understands the news group’s owner Evgeny Lebedev has agreed a deal to take on WPP’s remaining two-year lease for around 33,000 sq ft at Alphabeta, which sits on the fringes of the City of London near Shoreditch. The London newspaper will be joined in Alphabeta by its stablemate, The Independent, in the move east. The Evening Standard took up residence in Northcliffe House, which overlooks Kensington High Street, in 1988 following its move from Fleet Street along with the Daily Mail titles. Lebedev took control of the title in 2009 soon after it become a freesheet. Lebedev is also a minority shareholder in the Independent, which he bought from Independent News & Media in 2010.

Hammersmith & Fulham

Property Week reports that Ministry of Sound has agreed a deal with Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield to convert a House of Fraser store in west London into a mixed-use venue comprising flexible offices, a gym and a rooftop bar. The Ministry Shepherd’s Bush will take up 115,000 sq ft, with work to convert the department store expected to begin later this year and completion due by Q1 2024. It will provide flexible office space for around 1,200 people, with private offices and hot-desking spaces, plus a public health and fitness offer, a members’ gym and a rooftop bar and restaurant. The Shepherd’s Bush development, with investment coming from both Westfield and Ministry, will be the second mixed-use space owned by the Ministry of Sound, which opened The Ministry Borough Road in 2018. The west London House of Fraser store will join a list of other stores to have closed since the group was bought by Mike Ashley’s retail empire in 2018. Ministry of Sound group chairman Lohan Presencer said: “Ministry of Sound has a long history of creating experiences that disrupt the norm and exceed all expectation, in nightclubs, music, live events, fitness and more recently workspace.

Property Week reports that Helical has let a floor of The Tower, its mixed-use scheme at The Bower, Old Street in London’s Midtown, to digital financing platform Stenn Technologies. Stenn has taken the 9,572 sq ft 12th floor on a five-year lease. The Tower, which has 171,432 sq ft of office space, is let at an average contracted rent of £73.46/sq ft to a diverse range of international businesses. “This letting takes The Bower back to being fully occupied and Stenn Technologies is a great addition to this incredible community of businesses,” said Tom Anderson, senior investment executive of Helical. Helical was advised by Compton and JLL. Stenn Technologies was advised by Colliers.
Kensington & Chelsea
City A.M. reports that the filing of a €500m (£430m) lawsuit against Credit Suisse and Citco over the loss of millions in charitable funds through a Chelsea property deal has led to calls for greater transparency around the “origins of money used to purchase high-value property” in Britain. The calls come after Anglo-Italian financier Raffaele Mincione’s WRM Group filed a €500m lawsuit in a Luxembourg court, over claims the Swiss and British Virgin Islands’ banks failed to disclose that the €350m used to buy 60 Sloane Avenue in Chelsea came from the Vatican’s “Peter’s Pence” charitable fund. Mincione’ investment fund is now seeking €500m in damages over the “financial and reputational harms” both Mincione and WRM Group have suffered in the wake of the Chelsea deal, on the back of claims Citco and Credit Suisse failed to say the funds were intended for the needy. Joseph Sinclair, a legal researcher at Spotlight on Corruption, said: “The whole murky and sorry affair shows the vital need for transparency,” as he suggested the situation “could have been avoided with proper rigorous checks and procedures by those undertaking the deal.”
What House reports that Riverstone, a provider of exceptional London living for the over-65s, has opened its first residence in Kensington. Combining the finest design with exceptional amenities, 24/7 concierge service, the feel of a private members club with a close-knit community of like-minded residents; Riverstone represents the latest advancements in design, tech and well-being and showcases the future of later living in this country. Riverstone Kensington is a city sanctuary offering exquisite apartments for sale with outstanding amenities, extraordinary service, and health support from GDPQ and bespoke care from The Good Care Group at Riverstone. With a primary focus on well-being, there is a Fitness Studio featuring state of the art E-GYM equipment, Vitality Pool, Spa & Treatment Rooms and beautifully landscaped gardens by award-winning designer, Andy Sturgeon.

Property Week reports that Native Land has submitted a planning application for Building 1, an 80,600 sq ft, sustainable office building at its Bankside Yards scheme on London’s South Bank.  Plans for the 18-storey office building, designed by Make Architects, include seven double-height terraces on alternate floors, a roof garden with hospitality space, and bookable dining rooms. The building will be integrated into landscaped green space as part of Bankside Yards’ 3.3 acres of riverside public realm with views of St Paul’s Cathedral and the City. The developer is targeting BREEAM Outstanding and a NABERS 5-Star rating. Building 1 will be part of Bankside Yards’ all-electric energy network, meaning it will generate zero emissions and be net zero carbon in operation.

Tower Hamlets

Property Week reports that Strettons is set to offer a £7.5m mansion block in east London at its upcoming 14 July sale, among 40 other lots. The Victorian mansion block in Bethnal Green is the highest-priced property in the catalogue and comprises an unbroken freehold of 24 one-bedroom flats currently producing £354,252 per year. The auction house claims the lot is the largest to be offered for auction in E2, and the fourth-largest ever brought to auction in the UK. Strettons auction director Andrew Brown said: “We are seeing significant interest in this prominently located, characterful mansion block as properties such as this rarely come up at auction. “There is a real opportunity here for someone to acquire a piece of Bethnal Green history that is well known by people in the area.” Elsewhere in the catalogue is a shop and uppers property in Hackney on sale for £2m, arranged as two retail units and six flats. A freehold terraced house in Manor Park, E12, is guided at £350,000-plus and is being marketed with potential to be extended. Over in Southwark, two purpose-built BI business units at Ink Works Court are guided at £675,000-plus.

Tower Hamlets council reports that it has had the biggest population increase in the country. Tower Hamlets has seen the biggest population increase in England and Wales – with the number of residents increasing by more than 22 per cent. The results were revealed by the Office of National Statistics in the 2021 Census results released on Tuesday and have heightened calls for better funding for the borough’s services to cope with the increased demand. Tower Hamlets is the densest populated borough in England with 15,695 residents per km2 – compared to the national average of 424 per km2. Tower Hamlets Council is already working hard to cope with the rise in population, and in the five years to 2021, built more affordable houses than any other London borough. However more investment is needed with 21,480 households on our waiting list. The council constantly reviews other service impacts of a changing population including demand for primary and secondary school places across the borough.

What House reports that Red Loft has announced the launch of brand new Shared Ownership apartments at Orchard Wharf in east London. Orchard Heights is a brand new development of 338 homes in Tower Hamlets, which has just been launched by first-time buyer sales agency Red Loft. Offering a collection of Shared Ownership homes to the east London neighbourhood of Leamouth, on the banks of the River Lea, the striking 23-storey tower and five further cascading blocks are oriented towards the water, creating an eye-catching landmark on the riverbank. The development also brings an onsite shop and café, an outdoor pavilion, courtyard gardens and two attractively landscaped roof terrace gardens for residents’ use, with views over the London skyline. Being delivered by developer Galliard and Section 106 partner, Eastend Homes, homes at Orchard Wharf are putting a riverside lifestyle in reach for first-time buyers, with deposits starting from just £5,338.


Property Week reports that The University of London has placed a student accommodation scheme Lillian Penson Hall in the heart of Paddington on the market for £55m. The property has 313 student bedrooms with facilities over a lower ground, ground and six upper floors. The property has planning permission for an additional 17 bedrooms and further work to upgrade the existing rooms and facilities. It is being sold with vacant possession. Savills, which is marketing the property on behalf of the university, said the scheme is being sold as the University of London is focusing on future improvement and redevelopment work on its campus in the heart of Bloomsbury. Savills development director Darren Arnold said: “The sale of Lillian Penson Hall provides a rare and exciting opportunity to purchase a significant freehold asset in central London. The building is superbly placed and provides a variety of asset management opportunities.” A spokesperson from The University of London added: “The University of London has a mission to provide all staff and students with a first-class learning experience, whether that’s through our distance learning courses, or through their accommodation with us here in London.”

Property Week reports that Travel search platform Skyscanner has confirmed it will move its London head office to Soho Estates’ mixed-use development, Ilona Rose House. Skyscanner will take 29,500 sq ft across the fifth and sixth floors in the eight-storey Soho creative hub. The travel search firm will move its 300-strong London based workforce to the building, which is close to the new Elizabeth Line on Tottenham Court Road, in early 2023. Ilona Rose House is said to be the jewel in the crown of the Soho Estates portfolio, totalling 325,000 sq ft of mixed-use accommodation. With a further 26,500 sq ft already under offer, and some restaurant deals signed, only 55,000 sq ft of offices remain available over levels 1, 2 and 3. Philip Thompson, director at Soho Estates, said: “Soho Estates is dedicated to encouraging the creative industries, innovation and businesses in Soho. “Soho has long been the centre for creative industries and entrepreneurship. Ilona Rose House is a lively destination in Soho, and we identified this as an excellent opportunity to work with a fast-growing and unique company such as Skyscanner.”

Property Week reports that Sellar, on behalf of owner Great Western Developments, has pre-let all the 350,000 sq ft of office space available at Paddington Square, in central London. Global investment manager Capital Group has taken nine floors, doubling its office size to more than 220,000 sq ft for 10 years, relocating from Victoria. The new office will have a state-of-the-art 150-seater auditorium, a multi-purpose event space and multi-media studio capabilities. Sustainable packaging company DS Smith has signed a lease to create a new global HQ on the third floor, while retail giant Kingfisher will make the seventh floor its new UK HQ. The first occupiers will be moving in later in 2022, following the main building’s practical completion in early autumn. Paddington Square comprises 14 levels of light-filled, modern workspaces with views across London, around 40 retail and dining brands, west London’s highest rooftop restaurant and terrace and a new public piazza.
Property Week reports that the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally found that a group of 10 construction firms illegally colluded to rig bids for 19 contracts for demolition and asbestos removal jobs worth more than £150m. The contracts related to projects including, in London: 33 Grosvenor Place, 135 Bishopsgate, Bow Street’s Magistrates Court and Police station, the Metropolitan Police training centre, Selfridges, and offices on the Southbank; as well as work at Oxford University, and shopping centres in Reading and Taplow. The UK competition watchdog said eight of the firms involved in the illegal cartels had admitted to taking part between January 2013 and June 2018: Brown and Mason, Cantillon, Clifford Devlin, DSM, J F Hunt, Keltbray, McGee, and Scudder. The CMA said two other firms, Erith and Squibb, had not admitted to being involved in any bid rigging and it should not be assumed that they had broken the law. The watchdog said bids had been rigged with the deliberate intention of deceiving the customer that they were competitive. But instead, one or more of the firms had agreed to submit bids that were “deliberately overpriced” to lose the tender, a practice known as ‘cover bidding’.
Property Week reports that Vacant homes in London increase by the thousands, fuelling squeezed supply. Westminster has seen the number of vacant but owned homes jump by 48 per cent over the past year – the equivalent of nearly 2,500 homes – as property demand in London outpaces supply. London is the only region of England which has seen the number of vacant homes rise over the past year, according to estate agent comparison site GetAgent, with some of the wealthiest boroughs leaving good homes empty. Alongside Westminster, Camden’s vacant homes increased by 4,770 properties and Kensington and Chelsea saw an increase of more than 3,000 homes lying dormant in the 12-month period. Vacant properties have locked away almost £46bn worth of prime real estate, with London riddled with homeowners living outside of the city, awaiting more favourable price growth before selling their property. “The pandemic spurred an exodus of homeowners who headed for greener climbs and coastal locations. Some of whom won’t have sold their London property before doing so with an eye on returning to London further down the line,” CEO and co-founder of GetAgent, Colby Short, told City A.M.

The Times reports that some of Britain’s biggest office landlords came under heavy selling pressure yesterday after a large American investment bank warned that “real estate’s glory days are numbered”. Shares in Land Securities, Workspace and Great Portland Estates all fell by more than 5 per cent. British Land, which analysts at the Bank of America earmarked for a potential dividend cut, was the worst hit as it dropped by almost 9 per cent. Even Derwent London, which they think should be the “best place to seek shelter” given its modern office portfolio, retreated 4 per cent. In total, the falls chipped £1.4 billion off their combined stock market value. Investors took fright after analysts at Bank of America did an about-turn on their view of the office sector amid a “perfect storm” of factors weighing on the outlook and cut its earnings forecasts for office landlords by 7 per cent a year for the next ten years.