A weekly round up of the latest planning and property news from the central London boroughs
City of London
Construction Enquirer reports that the City of London Corporation has unveiled plans for a new court and police complex on Fleet Street. The proposals would see construction of an eighteen courtroom facility and a new state-of-the-art headquarters for the City of London Police alongside a commercial development that will help fund the scheme. The project aims to deliver a new civic hub that will house a state-of-the-art combined court and a new headquarters for the City of London Police in the heart of the Square Mile’s legal and financial services cluster.
PBC Today reports that Galliford Try has won a major redevelopment contract with Arax Properties for the new Bishopsgate centre in London. The scheme, worth in excess of £50m to the business, is a substantial refurbishment and repositioning of 280 Bishopsgate, which is situated in the heart of the City of London. The works include the internal refurbishment of 264,500 sqft of office space to Category A level, along with full fit-out to the core and reception areas. The refurbished building will incorporate a unique, 7,800 sqft MoreySmith-designed dual reception spanning the full length of the building and connecting Bishopsgate with the green spaces of Bishops Square, Spitalfields.
The Evening Standard reports that a top insurer said it plans to pull some staff out of Lloyd’s of London as the 334-year-old market undergoes a revamp post-pandemic. The Lime Street market, usually host to up to 5000 City workers and seen as the hub of the world’s face-to-face insurance broking trade, has been shut since March and is due to reopen on September 1 at around 45% capacity. Though the market itself will survive — London’s position as an insurance hub is solid — the historic area is likely to be far less busy even once Covid subsides, and fewer brokers and underwriters are expected in the vast Richard Rogers-designed building
City of Westminster
Ham & High reports that Westminster Council is forecasting a £91 million economic impact from the coronavirus pandemic. The local authority has lost huge revenue from commercial rents and business rates, and from road and parking charges. But the opposition says the council will have to make cuts to public services, such as social care, if the government doesn’t provide more emergency funding. At a cabinet meeting on July 13 councillors were told there will be a funding gap of £29m by the next financial year, rising to £91.3m by April 2023. Westminster Council, regardless of this, is still planning to build 2,400 new homes by 2023. And no details have been given about which services might be cut.
Property Week reports that The Crown Estate has written to some tenants offering a switch to turnover based rents. In one case The Crown Estate asked for 9% of turnover or a percentage of what it would normally receive in quarterly rents, on a scale starting at 0% for the current period and rising to 75% by next month. The Estate said it was focusing its help on small and independent businesses.
Property Week also reports that fellow West End Landlord Shaftesbury is also deploying a mix of fixed and turnover-based rent to help tenants get back on their feet. “I think we’ve always accepted that leasing is going to get a bit more flexible and there will probably be a mix of both,” chief executive Brian Bickell said.
The BBC reports that plans to convert part of the Trocadero building at London’s Piccadilly Circus into a mosque have been withdrawn. The Aziz Foundation, an Islamic education charity, submitted plans in February to turn two basement floors into a mosque for 1,000 worshippers. Westminster City Council received 6,100 comments in support and 2,800 objecting, a high volume were “racist”. When the plans were submitted, the Islamic education charity said a mosque would help provide prayer space in a location where there was “a significant shortfall in places of worship”
Property Week reports that Capital and Counties has reported a 17% drop in the value of its Covent Garden property portfolio, falling to £2.2bn since the end of last year. The real estate giant said that the valuation decline in the six months up to 30 June 2020 relates to the retail, leisure and F&B portfolio, most of which closed during the Covid-19 lockdown. Overall 71% of rent has been collected in the first six months of the year compared to 99% for the equivalent period in 2019.
The Hackney citizen reports that the Town Hall has laid down a challenge to locals to build their own home on council land. To be eligible to undertake the Self-Build Challenge, bidders for the scheme must be connected to Hackney either through living, working or studying here, not already own a home, and have a total household income of under £90,000. The council is welcoming applications for “innovative and environmentally-friendly” home designs on plots of land too small for council developments, with the aim of giving families priced out of the housing market a different route onto the ladder.
The Hackney Gazette reports that Hackney Council’s income has been “decimated” by the impact of Covid-19, according to the deputy mayor. The council faces a towering financial blow of £67m this financial year, made up of around £24m in additional spending and £43m in lost takings. Central government has provided £18m of additional support to the borough so far, with an additional maximum of around £12.3m still to arrive. This leaves the council staring down a shortfall this year of around £37m. To put this in perspective, the entire funding loss experienced by the council during the past decade of austerity was £140m.
The Hackney Gazette reports that construction work on a group of “genuinely affordable” new homes in Hackney has begun. Half of the 26 new homes in Pedro Street at the site of a disused boiler house in Clapton Park will be for social rent and half for shared ownership. Local people will be given priority on the homes, which include a mix of family-sized and smaller properties linked to Gilpin Square. All the properties, scheduled to be finished in 2022, will have a balcony or terrace and access to a shared garden
Building reports that Hackney council has started the search for a contractor to build a £65m housing project in north London. The council is looking for a principal contractor for phases three and four of the regeneration of Kings Crescent Estate in Stoke Newington. The scheme consists of six new apartment buildings ranging from six to 11 storeys, delivering community space, commercial space, 219 new-build residential units and the refurbishment of 174 existing units. The 219 homes are made including 28 for social rent, 75 for shared ownership, and 116 for outright sale.
Hammersmith and Fulham
My London reports that a 23-storey skyscraper hotel will be built over a Hammersmith courthouse, despite a huge number of objections from nearby residents and the local MP. Developer Dominvs Group was given planning permission on Tuesday, July 21, for its hotel complex that will include a viewing gallery, gym, public meeting rooms and restaurant.It will comprise two separate buildings, a “south” hotel at five and 10 storeys, and the “north” hotel at seven and 23 storeys. It will be built over the vacant Magistrates’ Court building in Talgarth Road which was closed by the Ministry of Justice in 2017, just 27 years after it opened. The 147 local objectors argued that the proposal: Was too tall, It would block evening sunlight reaching homes, It would “harm” the setting of Margravine Cemetery, and that Hammersmith and Fulham already has 180 hotels
The Construction Index reports that the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham has awarded United Living Property Services (ULPS) a five-year repairs and maintenance contract worth more than £20m. From 1st August 2020, ULPS will be responsible for providing day to day repairs across an around 5,000 homes, as well as delivering refurbishment works to any empty homes. This will be operated 24/7 with an out of hours service. Under the terms of the agreement around 20 staff will transfer to ULPS under TUPE regulations.
Building Design reports that a former London mayoral candidate and a cellist have launched a campaign to torpedo Roger Stirk Harbour & Partners’ plans to redevelop South Kensington Tube station. Rory Stewart and Julian Lloyd-Webber have joined forces to fight the proposals – the sixth attempt in 30 years to rejig the historic station. They say that the scheme, which is scheduled to start in early 2023 if it gets approval from Kensington & Chelsea council, would destroy the bright, airy atmosphere and village-like character of the surrounding area. RSHP’s designs would transform the 1868 grade II-listed station’s distinctive horseshoe-shaped bullnose building into a four-storey office and retail block and see 50 homes built in the vicinity of the site, 17 of which would be affordable.
Building reports that a senior staff member at the main contractor behind the Grenfell Tower refurbishment has accepted it lacked the ability to properly scrutinise design proposals for the project. Simon Lawrence, who was contracts manager for Rydon for much of the refurbishment project, made the admission at the end of his fourth day of evidence to the inquiry into the 2017 fire at the west London block, which claimed 72 lives
Brixton Blog reports that AG Hondo Pope’s Road BV, the Amsterdam-based company that is seeking to build a 19-storey office block on Pope’s Road in central Brixton, has amended its plans for the development in an apparent response to overwhelming opposition to them. The application, first submitted to Lambeth council on 16 April this year, now runs to scores of documents amounting to many hundreds of pages. Of the 320 public comments on the application, which can be seen here, 313 oppose it, the vast majority of them very strongly.
London News Online reports that residents of one of London’s biggest areas without a railway station are bidding to have theirs restored, more than a century after it closed to passengers. Camberwell’s SE5 Forum is appealing to the Department of Transport to consider reopening Camberwell railway station – with support from MPs Harriet Harman and Helen Hayes and Southwark council. The forum is backed by residents, institutions and local firms on social media, two years after 2,000 people signed a petition for the restoration. The bid will be for funding from the Restoring Your Railway programme run by the Department of Transport.
Architects Journal reports that Robert Jenrick told MPs there was ‘no bias whatsoever’ in his decision to approve PLP’s 1,500-home Westferry Printworks scheme. The housing secretary insisted he was not influenced by the scheme’s backer Richard Desmond, despite sitting next to him at a dinner and exchanging text messages. Jenrick approved the £1 billion east London project the day before Tower Hamlets Council’s community infrastructure levy changed, effectively saving Desmond’s Northern & Shell development vehicle £45 million. The approval was later quashed by the government, which admitted it was unlawful on grounds of ‘apparent bias’. But Jenrick said today: ‘The decision was the right one. There was no bias whatsoever. Any suggestion of that is extremely unfair and in most cases is a wilful misreading of events.
The Wandsworth Guardian reports that work is underway to convert a former government office into a modern apartment building, providing over 84 new homes in Balham. Irene House was built in the 1940s and was formerly occupied by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Vacated in March 2020, the building will be converted into 77 apartments with an additional seven apartments created in a roof extension. Property company Telereal Trillium originally secured planning approval for the works in May 2018. However, the additional seven units were approved by Wandsworth Council this April, in one of the first virtually held planning committee meetings in London. The mix of studio, one and two-bedroom apartments, are likely to attract young professionals, who are increasingly putting down roots in Balham. The homes will come onto the market in October this year and are expected to cost around £400k.
The Times reports that property investors have suffered a £1.5 billion shortfall in rental income that was due for the second quarter of the year. Almost a fifth of rent that was due at the March quarter payday had not been collected 90 days later, according to Remit Consulting. The retail sector, which was forced to shut outlets during the lockdown, accounted for £780 million of the £1.5 billion of unpaid rent. Only 7 per cent of residential rent has not been collected, compared with 12 per cent of office rent, 32 per cent of retail rent and 16 per cent of industrial property rent.
Property Week reports that Two new permitted development rights have been laid in parliament by housing secretary Robert Jenrick, after they were announced earlier this year. Under the new laws put in front of parliament today (Tuesday), planning permission would no longer be necessary for the demolition and rebuilding of unused buildings as homes. Current homeowners would also be able to add up to two additional storeys to their home to create new homes or increase living space. Pubs, libraries, village shops and other buildings considered essential to communities will not be covered by these flexibilities.