A weekly round up of the latest planning and property news from the central London boroughs
Hotel Owner reports that Whitbread, owner of the Premier Inn and hub by Premier Inn hotel brands, has secured a premises license for its first hub by Premier Inn hotel in Camden Town, London. The 80-bedroom hotel, which was granted planning permission by Camden Council in January, is due to be built on the site of the former Sports Direct retail store on the corner of Camden High Street and Delancey Street (115-119 Camden High Street). The development also includes three social rented homes. When it opens, the hotel will be Whitbread’s second hub by Premier Inn hotel in the London Borough of Camden and is expected to employ approximately 35 employees with recruitment focused in the borough.
City of London
Architects journal reports that Populous must wait longer for a decision on its design for a 90m-high entertainment venue in east London after planners insisted on a third round of public consultation. The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) has written to the scheme’s backer, Madison Square Garden Company (MSG), to demand further information on a range of issues relating to the Sphere, including its impact on transport, light and health. The planning authority said that the proposals for a former coach park next to Westfield Stratford City shopping centre would then be put back out for public consultation before a planning committee would consider the application. It means a decision on the Sphere, the plans for which were first submitted in March 2019, is highly unlikely before October.
City of Westminster
Property Week reports that Capco reported a slump in the value of its Covent Garden property portfolio yesterday. The prime West End area owned by Capco is valued at £2.2bn, marking a 17% like-for-like drop since 31 December 2019. Net rental income for the six months ending 30 June 2020 was down 41 per cent to £18m against the same period last year. Capco said that it has provided support to retail and hospitality customers experiencing cash flow pressures, with rental agreements being adjusted on a case-by-case basis to include deferrals and turnover-linked arrangements where appropriate.
EG reports that Hines is nearing a deal to buy Landsec’s 7 Soho Square, W1, for more than its £74.5m guide price. The firm has placed the 62,000 sq ft art deco property under offer. It is leased to planning and design consultancy Barton Willmore, online travel firm TripAdvisor and flexible serviced office provider Knotel, according to Radius Data Exchange. Around 10 offers were submitted in the first round of bidding for the property, with further competitive bidding in the second round.
OnLondon reports Sadiq Khan has called on national government to provide targeted support for the capital’s West End to help it through a “perfect storm” of continuing home working, restrictions on tourism, and social distancing requirements, including on public transport, which is devastating a district whose success is crucial to the national economy. Khan is supported in his overture to Downing Street by the New West End Company, which represents many of the area’s major retails and hospitality providers. It’s chief executive Jace Tyrrell asks the government to “keep retail and hospitality in front of mind and not forget the beating heart of the British economy as lockdown is eased”. Tyrell underlines the Mayor’s call for additional help, saying that increased footfall in the are has been small and that “with few international visitors, the next couple of months will be a defining moment for hundreds of West End businesses”.
Architects Journal reports that Westminster City Council has appointed Publica to oversee the £235 million overhaul of Europe’s busiest shopping street and its surrounds. The local authority named the City of London urban design and public realm practice as ‘design guardian’ for the Oxford Street District initiative. Publica has been brought into ensure a consistent approach to more than 100 individual projects under the overall programme, including two new public squares at Oxford Circus. The contract marks the first significant milestone in the long-awaited project that the council said had become critical for businesses affected by Covid-19.
Property Week reports that Investec Structured Property Finance has agreed to provide a joint venture with a £16.6m loan for the redevelopment of a car park in Fitzrovia into an office building. The 36-month facility will finance the acquisition and development of the asset into 22,800 sq ft Grade A office space across six storeys. The joint venture between investment firm Angelo Gordon and developer Hondo Enterprises acquired the West End asset with 38 years remaining on the lease and have negotiated an extension to 125 years with the freeholder. The JV has previously worked on the purchase and redevelopment of Brixton Market.
Property Week reports that Investor developer Quadrum has been given the green light for a 150,000 sq ft redevelopment in Victoria. The plans for the regeneration of 11 Belgrave Road, located near Victoria train station, include a new floor of office accommodation, wrap around terraces and a flexible leisure space that could accommodate a cafe/restaurant and a gym/spa. The work will also include a new boundary wall and landscaped gardens for tenants at the rear of the building.
Property Week reports that The Crown Estate has signed a six-month trial run of BIKE-DROP, a concept which aims to provide secure bike parking. The Crown Estate hopes the initiative in its central London portfolio will help re-open the West End post-Covid. The new DROPS will open on 61 Great Portland Street, a 1,545 sq ft space, and 56-60 Conduit Street across 4,430 sq ft, on 31 August and 7 September respectively. Director of central London at The Crown Estate, James Cooksey, said: “This is one of many ways we’re working to deliver a safe and sustainable reopening of the West End, adapting our spaces to ensure we’re responding to customers and visitor’s changing needs.
Property Week reports that Capco’s shareholders have voted by majority (72%) in favour of acquiring a 26% stake in West End landlord Shaftesbury, but almost 28% voted against the move. In a general meeting with shareholders on Monday, a vote was taken to decide on the acquisition of Shaftesbury’s shares spread across two tranches. Capco said it would “continue to engage with shareholders to address any concerns”. It added: “The company notes that selected proxy agencies focused on short-term share price movements, which have been driven by relatively low trading volumes.
Hammersmith and Fulham
My London reports that a huge housing development looks set to be built beside Wandsworth Bridge despite concerns about a lack of affordable housing. Blueprints show that 269 homes will be built on the Currys PC World superstore site in Wandsworth Bridge Road, Fulham, which closed earlier this year. Developer Londonewcastle last week won permission to make big changes to a planning approval it received in 2014 for the site, known as Hurlingham Retail Park.
Building Design reports that a Fulham landmark is to become a hotel – three years after redevelopment bid by Tony Fretton failed. One of this year’s Young Architect of the Year Award finalists has won consent to convert a listed west London town hall into a hotel and co-working space after previous plans by Tony Fretton Architects were thrown out. East London-based Droo Projects was named one of eight contenders for Building Design’s prestigious YAYA trophy this month. Now Hammersmith & Fulham council has granted the practice permission to convert Fulham Town Hall into a 90-bedroom hotel and events space a few hundred yards from Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge stadium.
Islington Gazette reports that construction is now complete on a ‘near-zero carbon’ community sports centre and gym in King’s Cross. Located at the north east edge of the 67-acre King’s Cross development between York Way and Wilberforce Street, King’s Cross Sports Hall features a health and fitness suite over two levels, and an indoor sports hall. The building’s position – just three metres above the underground tunnels of the Thameslink railway line – created a unique design challenge for architects Bennetts Associates and engineering firm Arup.
Architects Journal reports that house builder Redrow has pulled out of a HawkinsBrown-led estate regeneration scheme in south London, citing costs and planning concerns. The Welsh developer announced it was exiting the 1,108-home Alton Estate in Roehampton after reviewing its commitments in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Redrow last year submitted plans to Wandsworth Council to demolish buildings on the estate and replace them with towers up to nine storeys high. A consultation on the plans closed last week.
The Times reports that the future of the office will be “long-life, loose-fit” adaptable spaces, with larger common areas to focus on relationship-building, according to a developer that has been at the forefront of workplace design for decades. Derwent London, which was Google’s first London landlord, said that the pandemic had shown that many companies could operate effectively with staff working from home, but they would need offices to bring staff together, build culture, attract talent and have a physical embodiment of their brand. It expects lockdown to accelerate a shift to more flexible, higher-quality and “greener” space. As such, the developer’s design team is focusing on adaptable spaces and factors that can enable people to meet in larger common areas, with higher ceilings and better air quality and ventilation.
Property Week reports that Derwent London co-founder Simon Silver has announced his plans to retire next year after more than three decades at the helm of the company. Silver, an executive director, said this morning that he will retire from the board with effect from 26 February 2021, but will remain a consultant to the business until the end of 2022. Alongside current chairman John Burns, Silver built up Derwent into one of the UK’s biggest developers, often converting derelict office blocks in areas of the West End into new creative workplaces.
Burns said: “Simon has evolved the Derwent London brand for over 35 years starting with 4,000 sq ft in Islington to recently completing 380,000 sq ft at 80 Charlotte Street. He has brought cutting edge design to every project with his eye for detail and creativity, making Derwent’s buildings exciting and instantly recognisable. As both a colleague and friend he is exceptional.”
The Times reports that the property arm of the Spanish billionaire founder of Zara has been accused of using bullying tactics by retailers. High street chains have complained that Pontegadea, the investment vehicle of Amancio Ortega, 84, has demanded some of the harshest terms and been least flexible in accepting rent reductions in the wake of coronavirus.