A weekly round up of the latest planning and property news from the central London boroughs
Ham High reports that the Government has quashed Camden Council’s attempt to shut down a Primrose Hill museum named after one of India’s founding fathers. Ambedkar House has been the subject of a protracted planning dispute between the museum and Camden Council, who argued Dr Ambedkar wasn’t well-known enough in Britain to warrant a memorial. Camden issued an enforcement notice in November 2018 ordering the museum – based in 10 King Henry’s Road – to convert back into a residential property, before a planning inquiry was held last September. On March 12, Robert Jenrick – the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) – ruled the museum, inaugurated by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in 2015, could remain.
Camden Council has announced that the construction of their new care service at Charlie Ratchford Court has reached the top of the building, a significant step towards completion. Councillor Patricia Callaghan, Councillor Danny Beales and staff from Camden and Vistry Partnerships marked the critical milestone in the project with a ‘topping out’ ceremony held on the building’s green roof. Due for completion later this year, Charlie Ratchford Court will provide care to residents with a range of needs through an innovative care model that will help them maintain their independence and reduce loneliness. The scheme will include 38 purpose-built flats, a café-style dining area where residents and families can come together, and a programme of activities that can be enjoyed in the flexible indoor and outdoor spaces by residents and the wider community.
City of London
Real Assets reports that CBRE GI has acquired a 229,129sqft Grade A office building in London on behalf of an unnamed international separate account client. CBRE GI said it has bought Premier Place from Greycoat and an affiliate of Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing for an undisclosed sum. The nine-storey office building, fully let to two office tenants, has three retail units on the ground floor and also has three basement levels.
London Property Alliance reports that the City of London Corporation’s Property Investment Board moved its small business tenants onto monthly rather than quarterly billing to help their cashflow. The Corporation is exploring additional measures to help businesses most affected by COVID-19.
Hackney Citizen reports that plans to mitigate congestion at Hackney Central station are now moving ahead, with a decision by the Town Hall to provide a second entrance on council-owned land on Graham Road. Usage of the Overground went up by 160 per cent between 2007 and 2013 and is expected to increase by up to 40 per cent over the next ten years. Network Rail will cover the £3.2m funding for the construction of the entrance.
Hackney Citizen reports that parents at Shoreditch Park Primary School are campaigning against council plans to redevelop part of the playground. Proposals approved by Hackney Council in 2018 overruled previous plans to return the space to the school after its use as a marketing suite for developer Anthology Hoxton Press. Instead, two blocks of mostly affordable housing will be built, permanently reducing the current playground by 6.33 per cent.
Construction Enquirer reports that construction of a £60m mental health care centre, opposite the Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust’s existing centre, is due to begin later this year, following planning permission approval. The facility will boast five wards, a gym, dedicated activity spaces and a community café, replacing the mental health inpatient wards at St Pancras Hospital which are ageing and no longer fit-for-purpose.
Kensington & Chelsea
Architects Journal reports that the Grenfell inquiry chair Martin Moore-Bick has decided to suspend the hearings, as continuing would expose those required to attend to an ‘unacceptable risk’ of infection. It came after one of the inquiry’s panel, architect and health and safety expert, became ill over the weekend with symptoms similar to the virus. Moore-Bick, who at 73 is in one of the ‘high-risk’ groups told to take greater caution, said he would consider the possibility of continuing hearings via video link and would provide a further update in due course.
Property Week reports that Blackstone is in talks to buy Almacantar’s Southbank Place development, which was put on the market last year with an £875m price tag. The 570,000 sq ft office scheme, comprising One and Two Southbank Place, is fully let to WeWork and Shell.. Cushman & Wakefield was instructed to sell the buildings in May last year.
Wandsworth Council reports that Lambeth is one of six councils to receive money from the local digital fund, aimed at supporting digital projects that improve public services. The £1.2 million pot was divvied up between Lambeth, Southwark, Croydon, Greenwich, Buckinghamshire, and Barnsley – 23 projects have already received £2.5 million from the fund. The funding for Lambeth will go towards designing a system that can filter out incomplete or invalid planning applications. The council, which estimates that about 50 per cent of planning applications in London are invalid, has already developed a prototype and will now test it with users.
Property Investor Today reports that student accommodation specialist Alumno has been granted planning permission for the construction of a new residence on Alscot Road in Bermondsey. Alumno’s fourth development in Southwark, the residence will provide fully integrated facilities for 143 students, including ‘high-quality rooms with shared amenities’, such as a basement cinema lounge, study room and community area.
Southward News reports that Camberwell has been given £1.5 million in funding from the Greater London Authority’s Good Growth Fund. The cash will improve three areas highlighted by local people, creating better connections between the hospitals, Denmark Hill station and the centre, make more space at Camberwell College of Arts available to local people, and help local traders. This includes landscaping on Camberwell Station Road and making empty railway arches available to businesses.
News Shopper reports that Southwark Council has suspended evictions over rent arrears for council tenants amid the Covid-19 outbreak. It has also added more than £2 million to its emergency hardship fund to help those “in crisis” who can’t pay rent or are waiting for their first universal credit payment. Cabinet member for finance performance and Brexit, Councillor Victoria Mills, urged those struggling to contact the council.
Property Week reports that the PPR Estates scheme at Old Kent Road will involve the demolition of the existing single-storey building and construction of two residential towers comprising 13 and 21-storeys delivering a total of 168 flats. The development will also include 181,910 sq ft of ground-floor retail space, which will be let to budget supermarket Aldi. Stace is providing project management and employer’s agent services, while Bogle Architects and DP9 Planning Consultant also make up the project team.
Architects Journal reports that the Poplar Works development has retrofitted 100 disused garages into 45 low-cost workshops and studios, a public café, events space and manufacturing facilities. The refurbished garages accommodate ground-floor units with a new upper storey constructed in cross-laminated timber (CLT). The scheme is supported by funding from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund, a regeneration initiative that champions growth and community development in the capital, with support from the London Economic Action Partnership.
Inside Housing reports that Jennifer Peters joins the London Borough of Tower Hamlets as divisional director for planning and building control. She comes from the Greater London Authority, where she was most recently head of London Plan and growth strategies.
Bdaily News reports that a £260m Coda development in Battersea has been launched by developer Avanton, which says the project is 60 per cent complete and will be finished by the end of the year. The development provides 130 private sale apartments and amenities, as well as a new global headquarters for the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD). The central Coda building is flanked by two buildings on either side, providing a further 169 homes for PRS Apartments to be managed by A2Dominion.
Architects Journal reports that The Department for Transport is refusing to release an internal report on the cancelled Garden Bridge project, claiming this would prejudice the commercial interests of the trust that developed it. The Garden Bridge scheme, designed by Thomas Heatherwick and championed by Boris Johnson while mayor of London, collapsed in August 2017. It left taxpayers with a bill of £43 million.
The Stage reports that plans for a major refurbishment of the West End’s Lyric Theatre have been revealed, including a wide-ranging restoration of its auditorium, front and back-of-house areas. According to plans, the front-of-housework will include a renovation of the venue’s bars and foyers, including a new mezzanine level connecting the back of the stalls to the stalls bar, and boosting the toilet provision.
Ham High reports that a walk-through monkey enclosure and a community space for schools and local groups are part of plans for the grade II* listed bird enclosure submitted to Westminster Council. Supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the historic Aviary is set to be transformed into a soaring walk-through monkey enclosure and will enable ZSL to work closely with the local community, to provide new community spaces and educate thousands more schoolchildren.
Property Week reports that Carluccio’s is in talks with landlords to negotiate a three-month rent holiday, as the restaurant chain becomes the latest to be hit by the coronavirus outbreak. Mark Jones, chief executive of Carluccio’s told the Financial Times on Sunday that the company was making public its rent relief request as a “call to arms” to encourage the sector to work together to prevent business closures. Jones said footfall had plummeted 40% in central London because of concerns over the spread of the virus in the past two weeks. The Italian restaurant chain closed 29 restaurants last year and now has 74 sites with 2,000 staff.
Property Week reports that struggling fashion and homeware retailer Laura Ashley has appointed PwC administrators after rescue talks were abandoned due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Fashion retailer H&M will also ask British landlords for a rent holiday next week to mitigate the widespread impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the business.
Property Week reports that LSL and Countrywide have dropped plans for a merger. The two agents had confirmed at the end of February they were in talks over a possible £470m merger, which would’ve brought together the UK’s two largest estate agent groups. Countrywide moved to reassure shareholders that the firm remains in a strong position, highlighting a recent return to a growth in profitability.
Property Week reports that Berkeley Group has postponed a £455m investor payout announced at the end of January due to the uncertainty around the impact of the coronavirus. In a statement last Thursday, the FTSE 100 firm announced they would revert instead to the original shareholder return of £125m to be paid at the end of March, and another round of £140m to be paid in September.