Weekly planning news from the central London boroughs

A weekly round up of the latest planning and property news from the central London boroughs


Property Week reports that US pharmaceutical group Merck is planning to build a £1bn UK hub in King’s Cross, London. The development, reported by the Financial Times, will include research laboratories and be located opposite King’s Cross train station. The site, Belgrove House, is currently occupied by low-rise buildings which will be demolished. The firm does not yet have planning permission from Camden council. The firm, known in Europe as MSD, announced the plans to establish a research and business hub in London in December 2017, but said the investment took longer than expected to materialise due to the lack of available sites.

City of London

Property Week reports that the future of the controversial Tulip tower depends on a weeks-long public inquiry in November, as its backers hope to overturn a decision that prevented planning permission for the skyscraper. An appeal has been made to the secretary of state against the decision by mayor Sadiq Khan to reject the 1,000ft tourist attraction from getting the go-ahead. The project was given the green light by the City of London’s planning and transportation committee in April 2019, subject to Sadiq Khan’s sign-off.  However, Khan instructed the committee to reject the proposals, citing concerns about how it could affect the capital’s skyline and views of the Tower of London.

Property Fund reports that Kajima Properties, a London based property investor, developer and asset manager, has completed on its new 83,000 sq ft NIA office and retail development at 77 Coleman Street, London, EC2.  The company has also signed an agreement with the first tenant to lease three floors in the new building, which recently celebrated its Platinum rating by WiredScore, the digital connectivity rating scheme.

Property Week reports that Knight Frank is selling Fetter Yard following a £15m refurbishment. The asset, located on 86 Fetter Lane in the City of London, comprises 104,652 sq ft of Grade A office space and retail accommodation. Knight Frank has been instructed by owners Europe Capital and Hobart Partners to find a buyer, inviting offers in excess of £122.2m. The property is held on a long leasehold and includes external terraces and a newly landscaped communal courtyard.

EG reports British Land is launching an app for tenants of its London sites, starting with its Broadgate campus in the Square Mile. The listed landlord has partnered with proptech firm Equiem on an app that will provide users with curated content about the sites, including shops and restaurants, as well as providing touch-free access to offices and amenities.

EG reports that Hong Kong-based Tenacity has released updated designs for its redevelopment of 70 Gracechurch Street. The firm altered its plans following a public consultation in December on the proposed 33-storey tower known as The Forum which would provide 600,000sqft of office and retail space.

City of Westminster

BBC News reports that Peers will not be moving to York after a proposal to relocate the House of Lords during rebuilding work was effectively axed. Boris Johnson wants the Parliamentary authorities to look at the idea of moving the Lords out of London while the Palace of Westminster is revamped. But the body in charge of the project said it would not be considered. The government says it is up to MPs and peers to decide but it will continue pushing for a move out of London. The government is also considering setting up a new government “hub” in York.

Property Week reports that The Rolling Stones are opening a flagship store in London’s Soho. The “RS No.9 Carnaby” will be on Carnaby Street, and has been created in partnership with Bravado, Universal Music Group’s merchandise and brand management company. The shop will sell fashion and merchandise, including a special glassware collection developed with Baccarat and engraved with the Rolling Stones’ tongue. The Rolling Stones said: “Soho has always encapsulated rock ’n’ roll so Carnaby Street was the perfect spot for our own store. We are confident this exciting project that our friends at Bravado have created will be an unrivalled experience for everyone to come to London and enjoy.”

The Evening Standard reports the pedestrianisation of Soho has been hailed a success, as 90 per cent of the area’s hospitality businesses have reportedly reopened. A total of 17 streets across the district are now temporarily car free, including Greek Street, Old Compton Street, Frith Street and Dean Street and, as of August 13, the entire length of Old Compton Street.

Property Week reports that The Howard de Walden Estate has slashed its dividend payments as it collected just 53% of rent owed for the three months to the end of June. Chief executive Andrew Hynard said that the uncertain outlook meant that the company would have to “significantly decrease” its dividends. He added: “We have decided to preserve capital and income and to re-invest that in the business, as opposed to paying a dividend which has seen phenomenal long-term growth. Going forward, we absolutely expect that the dividend will be reined right back.”

Shaftesbury has announced that Chinatown London will be transformed into an open air food destination as part of the #LoveChinatown campaign to support tenants, celebrate diversity, and safely welcome people back to Chinatown.Operators will be able to take advantage of additional seating in Newport Place creating an extra 150 covers, alongside the alfresco dining many restaurants are providing along the pedestrianised streets.

City AM reports that a penthouse apartment in the former MI6 headquarters that was once home to the real-life inspiration for James Bond’s boss M has gone on the market for £5.5m. The bombproof flat, located in Whitehall Court in the heart of Westminster, is part of the original London base of the Secret Intelligence Service. It also served as a pied-a-terre for Sir Mansfield Smith-Cumming, the founder of MI6 and Ian Fleming’s inspiration for the character M in the James Bond series.


Hackney Citizen reports that plans for the removal of an ancient plane tree in Woodberry Down are to be reconsidered by Hackney Council’s planning committee. The reappraisal of the fate of the so-called Happy Man Tree, the focus of widespread protest this year, will take place as a result of the publication of the Town Hall’s new Local Plan, which regulates development in the borough. According to the council, any planning applications that are major, controversial or would be particularly affected by new policy in the plan, and that have not been approved by the Mayor of London, must be reconsidered by councillors.

Housing Today reports that Lynch Architects has submitted plans for an infill scheme that will deliver 73 new homes on the Fairbank Estate at Hoxton in east London. The proposals, created as part of Hackney Council’s Housing Supply Programme, will deliver the homes in three new low-rise blocks at the base of 18-storey Thaxted Court, on the corner of Murray Grove. The site is currently occupied by a two-storey multi-storey car park. Practice founder Patrick Lynch said the problem of integrating 1960s towers into a hospitable street scape was a recurring theme in the practice’s work.

Hammersmith and Fulham

Construction News reports that Hammersmith and Fulham Council has abandoned procurement for a £75m fire-safety construction contract after mistakes in its tender documents meant it would not have been able to fairly evaluate bids. The west London local authority opened procurement for the works package in January. One winning contractor was set to carry out “a wide range of general ad-hoc construction work including some complex high-value voids” over a five-year period with the possibility to extend the programme for a further two years. Another contractor would have won a reserve place.


Property Week reports that landlord Cadogan is to open a Beaverbrook hotel in Chelsea following a £25m townhouse restoration. The 15,000 sq ft hotel on Sloane Street is planned to open in Summer 2021 and would be Beaverbrook’s first in London, comprising 14 luxury suites and a Japanese restaurant and bar.

Property Week reports that luxury senior living developer Auriens has received planning permission by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea for its 142-unit scheme in Kensington. The developers Heythrop College scheme on Kensington Square in south-west London comprises a houses a Grade-II listed college building, three townhouses and further student accommodation and classroom buildings. The buildings will be converted into housing for over 65s spanning 330,000 sq ft. Amenities for residents include a 100-cover restaurant, cinema, wine room, swimming pool, and two acres of interconnected landscaped gardens, which will be open to the public.


Construction Enquirer reports that Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing has started the search for a joint venture developer to deliver phase 2 of its vast £1.6bn Clapham Park estate rebuild in south London. In joint venture with Metropolitan Living, the investment partner will deliver up to 16 sites across the Clapham Park Estate. The £800m phase two could get underway next year if a suitable partner is found. This phase will provide nearly 2,400 homes, non-residential builds, public realm and infrastructure over the 15-year joint venture development term.

Brixton Buzz reports that Lambeth Council is running out of time to come to an agreement with the developer for Olive Morris House in Brixton – again. The ever-shifting timeframe for a deal between Lambeth and MUSE is now pencilled in for 1 December 2020. This follows a similar deadline slipping back in February 2019. A date was then agreed for 1 September 2019. This was pushed back a further year to September 2020. With this deadline in danger of being missed, Lambeth is scrambling around to shift the timeframe further.


Pro Landscaper reports that recent study of the publicly owned trees in the London Borough of Southwark has shown the value of the asset managed by the local authority. The study, using i-Tree Eco and carried out by urban forest specialists Treeconomics, discovered that the trees owned and managed by the London borough would have a replacement cost of more than £165m. In addition, using Southwark’s own tree inventory, Treeconomics calculated that the trees managed by the council remove in excess of 21t of air-borne pollutants, valued at more than £135,000 each year, and store over 57,000t of carbon, valued at over £14m per year.


Property Week reports Great Portland Estates is issuing £150m in unsecured US private placement notes. The issue, with a fixed rate coupon of 2.77%, is made up of 12 and 15-year maturities. The new issue was priced on 5 August and funds will be drawn on 5 November. The notes were placed with six investors, including two new lenders to GPE, and the financial covenants are identical to the group’s other unsecured debt. The placement increases the firm’s available liquidity to over £500m and will extend the group’s weighted average debt maturity to 7.5 years.

Property Week reports property finance provider Kenton Finance is expanding into London. The firm is opening offices in Mayfair and Canary Wharf as joint London bases and will look to grow its presence in the capital’s property market. The group, currently based in Cheshire, has lent over £375m in bridging and development loans since its creation in 2015. Kenton Finance offers loans of between £25,000 and £5m, doubling its maximum loan offering from £2.5m earlier this year to provide greater capital for housebuilders.

Property Week reports Investment in UK commercial property for the month of July this year is down 60% compared to the same period last year.£2bn was transacted last month compared to £5.6bn in July 2019, according to analysis from Colliers. The agency said the figure is in with the June figure for this year and an improvement on the months during lockdown. The firm also said that office investment volumes broke through the £1bn mark for the first time in four months in July, adding that the majority of activity was recorded in London, led by the sale of 25 Cabot Square in Canary Wharf, which was sold to Hong Kong based Link REIT for £380 million at 4.7 per cent initial yield.