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.


Camden Citizen reports that an emergency £2m cost-of-living fund is being set up to help cash-strapped residents in Camden. The fund is part of the Labour-run council’s aim of working with public services, residents and voluntary organisations “to ensure that no child, no resident and no family in Camden go hungry or cold”, and to help people avoid debt. Town Hall finance chief Cllr Richard Olszewski said: “Faced with the escalating crisis in the cost of living, there is a risk that this pushes residents into deeper poverty and brings those just about managing into financial crisis.” An estimated 37 per cent of Camden’s children are living in poverty according to research in 2020 by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation – one of the UK’s highest rates. In April, 10,084 of the borough’s 24,770 low-income households had council tax or rent arrears. This was an increase of 500 families since January, who owed £3m between them, with over half at risk of or in financial difficulty.

City of London

City Matters reports that a new public garden, named Reflection Garden and pitched opposite St Paul’s Cathedral, has been unveiled. The focal point of the garden at 25 Cannon Street is a reflection pool, creating a double view of St Paul’s dome as it is mirrored in the water. The project is a collaboration between the City of London Corporation, international real estate company Pembroke and landscape design practice Tom Stuart-Smith. Seating around the reflective pool immersed in the garden is a tranquil space for City workers, visitors and tourists to enjoy a green oasis with local wildlife and views of St Paul’s Cathedral. The Reflection Garden forms part of a refurbishment of 25 Cannon Street by Pembroke, alongside new retail and hospitality space, which the City Corporation’s Planning and Transportation Committee gave the green light to in 2020. Chairman of the Planning and Transportation Committee, Shravan Joshi, said: “Schemes like 25 Cannon Street are at the heart of the City’s recovery. It will deliver urban greening and exceptional new public space that can be enjoyed by all.

Property Reporter reports that across the City of London, the number of properties sold during the pandemic has halved when compared to pre-pandemic market conditions. This drop in demand has been largely led by an exodus of buyers from the city centre due to Covid restrictions and work-from-home restrictions. Newham also ranks as one of the worst-hit areas of the property market, with transactions across the borough dropping by -30% since January 2020. However, this trend hasn’t engulfed the whole of inner London and, at 13%, Kensington and Chelsea have actually seen the second-largest increase in pandemic market activity when compared to the pre-pandemic benchmark.

Architects Journal reports that Schroders Capital has revealed a proposal for a 285m-tall office tower at 55 Bishopsgate in the City of London. The tower would be the latest to join the City cluster, sitting next door to Richard Seiffert’s Tower 42 and near PLP’s 22 Bishopsgate, Allies and Morrisons’ and AFK’s recently completed  100 Bishopsgate, Kohn Pedersen Fox’s Heron Tower at 110 Bishopsgate and WilkinsonEyre’s under-construction 8 Bishopsgate. The scheme is also close to Foster + Partners’ Gherkin and RSHP’s Leadenhall building. The proposed skyscraper would provide about 74,000m² of office space across 60 floors, as well as ‘expansive’ public space on the top floor and activation at ground level. Office lobbies would on the second floor, allowing the entire ground place to be publicly accessible. The tower’s design has a structural lattice inspired by the Fibonacci sequence. Developer Schroders Capital, working with Stanhope, describes the structural system as ‘mirror[ing] nature’s most efficient forms’ as it ‘resembles the shape of a leaf, echoing its meaningful connections to natural elements’.

Property Week reports that Hong Kong investment firm CC Land Holdings has completed a £650m refinancing of the iconic Cheesegrater building, the City of London’s 225-metre-tall skyscraper. the nine-figure refinancing deal was coordinated by HSBC UK and HSBC HK International. The skyscraper is officially named The Leadenhall Building and was purchased by the Hong Kong-headquartered CC Land in 2017 for £1.15bn, the second-biggest sale of a UK building at the time. Dr Peter Lam, deputy chairman and managing director at CC Land, said: “We’re pleased to have worked with HSBC and our other banking partners to achieve the refinancing for The Leadenhall Building. “The funding will continue to support the business as we develop our international property portfolio.” Sunny Poon, HSBC’s head of corporate commercial banking in Hong Kong, said: “We are pleased to leverage our strong international connectivity and corporate finance expertise to support CC Land in the refinancing transaction for its iconic property in London. “We look forward to achieving more landmark deals with the client as it continues to build a quality global property portfolio.” Andy McDonald, head of real estate finance at HSBC UK, added: “The ‘Cheesegrater’ is a prominent feature of London’s skyline, and we’re delighted to have worked with CC Land and banking partners around the world to lead on the successful refinancing for this landmark investment property.


Islington Citizen reports that Islington’s head of housing is set to take over as chief executive at a west London council. Maxine Holdsworth will be moving to Kensington and Chelsea to replace current boss Barry Quirk. Dr Quirk was brought in after the Grenfell Tower disaster, which claimed the lives of 72 people including an unborn boy. He announced in January that he was stepping down from the role after the fifth anniversary of the fire and the end of the Grenfell Inquiry’s public hearings. The job was advertised with a salary range of £198,642 to £228,177, and the appointment has to be formally agreed by councillors. Holdsworth was seconded to Kensington and Chelsea when she was Islington’s director of housing needs. Her role, which lasted almost two years, included using the £235m budget for sourcing homes for the survivors of the June 2017 disaster and working with traumatised people as they were rehoused.

Kensington & Chelsea

Facilitate Magazine reports that the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has published a procurement notice for contractors to undertake repairs and maintenance works worth over £400 million. Services are set to include fire-prevention installation works, mechanical work and building completion works at local authority housing across the borough. The package could be worth between £400 million to £600 million depending on the final scope and duration of the agreements. Fire safety remediation work has been to the fore in the area since 72 people died on 14 June 2017 in the Grenfell Tower fire in North Kensington. Mechanical and electrical work and lift installation works are also included in the frameworks. A spokesperson for Kensington and Chelsea Council said: “These works relate to all council housing stock (no other council assets). We have a diverse housing stock across the whole borough with large estates in North Kensington and in Chelsea. “We’re yet to determine a finalised timeline for the procurement of the framework agreements so we’re intending to provide more information to the market on this in a subsequent contract notice.” The borough plans to procure frameworks that will establish a panel of contractors to deliver an investment and refurbishment programme.


Property Week reports that Crosstree Real Estate Partners has pre-let all 60,000 sq ft of office space at its One Berkeley Street development in Mayfair, London, and has also agreed deals for 70% of the building’s retail and food-and-beverage (F&B) space. The investment firm has signed a string of pre-let agreements for its landmark development, with major international investment advisory firms B-Flexion Group, Starwood Capital Group and Eastdil Secured taking 34,000 sq ft, 11,800 sq ft and 11,800 sq ft of office space respectively. The companies will be offered “hotel-like” services, with the recently refurbished office space handed over as “sustainable shell and floor”. Lotus Cars and restaurant GAIA will also make their London debuts at the development, signing for almost 15,000 sq ft of retail and F&B space. Greek Mediterranean taverna GAIA will take 9,500 sq ft located on the Dover Street corner of the development, becoming the brand’s international flagship when it opens in 2023.

Property Week reports that in a note circulated this morning, Shaftesbury said it will be sharing a ‘scheme document’ containing information on the merger process as it goes through the court-sanctioned arrangement under Part 26 of the Companies Act, which covers the reorganisation of a company’s capital by the consolidation of different share classes. It also published a trading update, highlighting continued strong leasing momentum and a reduction in EPRA vacancy from 4.7% to 4.1% since 31 March. Between 1 April and 30 June, the company said it concluded commercial lettings, renewals and rent reviews with a rental value of £10.1m and residential lettings with a rental value of £1.7m.

On London reports that Westminster Labour unveils commission to advise on policies for a ‘fairer city’. The new administration has many many friends with great expert to call on for guidance with its policy programme. Labour’s first ever Westminster City Council (WCC) elections win in May did not usher into power a band of callow innocents at risk of rude awakenings when faced with the practicalities of power. The new administration is headed by seasoned local politicians who’ve been rehearsing for their breakthrough moment for many years and can draw on the experience of plenty of other people who’ve shared their decades of uphill struggle. That pool of knowledge has been recruited to the Future of Westminster Commission, established to, as its terms of reference put it, “advise the council on areas of policy that are critical to the future success of the City” and “seek to review and make recommendations on the delivery of key council services to deliver a fairer Westminster for residents”.


City Matters reports that TfL has been granted another short-term extension to its emergency funding deal by the Government, it has been announced. The £200million bailout agreed in February was set to expire on June 24 but a stalemate in negotiations over a long-term funding agreement saw the deadline extended until 11.59pm on July 13. But with just hours to go until that deadline, TfL announced yet another short-term extension. This time they have until July 28. In a statement, TfL revealed a two-week extension had been agreed with the Department for Transport so that discussions over a longer-term deal could continue. A TfL spokesperson said: “We have agreed with the Government that our existing funding agreement will be extended until July 28, 2022 so these discussions can be continued. Whilst in receipt of Government support, we have worked hard to progress all conditions placed on TfL, and continue to maintain that we have met them all.

Mirror reports that foreign owners hold £45bn worth of property in London alone. Nearly a quarter of a million homes are owned by overseas buyers, suggesting that Brexit has not led to a massive exodus of foreign homeowners. After the UK voted to leave the EU, there were fears of a long-term mass exodus from the international property market. However, the latest research by London lettings and estate agents, Benham and Reeves revealed that overseas buyers owned just shy of a quarter of a million homes across England and Wales. In the current market, that’s over a staggering £90.7 billion worth of property, indicating Brexit has not led to a significant exodus of foreign homeowners. In fact, an analysis by the Centre for Public Data done last year revealed that overseas buyers have raided the property market in England and Wales as it tripled in a decade, from 88,000 in 2010 to nearly 250,000 in 2021.

Property Week reports that Kaye to tell investors Elizabeth Line will help mitigate economic woes. Helical boss Gerald Kaye will tell investors that the firm has enjoyed “a strong start to the financial year” at today’s annual general meeting. In a statement covering the period from 1 April to 13 July ahead of the AGM, the Helical chief executive has also pointed to the benefit of the new Elizabeth Line to the group. Kaye said: “Helical has had a strong start to the financial year, releasing equity from investment sales of 55 Bartholomew, EC1 and Trinity, our last asset in Manchester, as well as selling six residential units at Barts Square, with just a further eight to be sold.” He added that despite “current political uncertainty and headwinds affecting the global economy” that London continues to prosper and has been a boost with the opening of the Elizabeth Line.

Specification Online reports that Willmott Dixon has been selected to work alongside Notting Hill Genesis in delivering more than £2.8bn-worth of new homes for London. Achieving a place on the ‘Development Contractors’ section of the Notting Hill Genesis framework, the company will play an integral role in Notting Hill Genesis’ plans to deliver 7,000 new homes in the Greater London area over the next five years. The framework will run for four years until June 2026, but there is an option to extend this by a further one or two years. John Hughes, group director of development and deputy chief executive, said: “Our new framework is a key part of our commitment to better quality homes and improving the experience for our residents. The membership of the framework has a greater level of diversity than we have achieved before. “We want the companies we work with to reflect the communities in which we work. We look forward to working with our framework partners to re-imagine the quality of the homes we provide and together build a better place.”

Property Week reports that a number of London councils and property industry bodies have launched Property X-Change, a platform for bringing together property owners and those with fresh ideas to showcase how property can help create ‘high streets for all’ and revitalise London’s high streets. The British Property Foundation is one of eight founding partners from across the property and business sectors to join the initiative, which is part of the London Recovery Programme and ‘High Streets for All Mission led by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and London councils in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Among its aims are sharing stories where property has been at the heart of fresh approaches to common high-street challenges and promoting diverse voices in an inclusive forum “to discuss how we might secure a fair recovery and bright future for London’s high streets”. Other objectives include developing a network to bring high-street landowners, tenants and users together and invite anyone with an interest in successful high-streets to contribute, to build an open and accessible resource for everyone to use and learn from.