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 Chef Asma Khan is planning to reopen Darjeeling Express in the former Carluccio’s flagship site in Covent Garden next month. Khan closed her original restaurant in Kingly Court, Soho, this year and will relaunch Darjeeling Express on Garrick Street, taking over the entire ground floor.

City of London

The Times reports that The world’s biggest investment bank JP Morgan has told staff in London that they will be continuing to work remotely on a part-time basis. Meanwhile Linklaters, one of London’s elite Magic Circle law firms, said employees will be free to work from home for up to half of the week. Fears are growing that many workers will never return to their offices full time – putting the prosperity of central London and Canary Wharf at risk after decades as a global hub and massive investment in millions of square feet of world-class office space. In total 522,000 people work in the City of London, 70pc of them in high-skilled jobs, and along with Canary Wharf it is home to the vast majority of Britain’s powerhouse financial services industry – a source of £75.5bn in tax last year.

City of Westminster

Property Week reports that Landlord Grosvenor Britain & Ireland has decided to fund an extension of the government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme into September. Participating tenants will be offering half-price meals, up to the value of £10, every Monday to Wednesday, and will be reimbursed by Grosvenor in the form of reduced rent. Amelia Bright, executive director of the London estate at Grosvenor, said: “We’re doing all we can to bring people back to the West End to enjoy its world-class retail, beautiful architecture and fantastic restaurants.”

Architects Journal reports that Foster + Partners has resubmitted plans for a Great Exhibition-style temporary building to house Parliament while the Palace of Westminster is refurbished. Norman Foster’s practice has again put forward proposals, first mooted without success three years ago, for a £300 million scheme in response to a new call for evidence from the sponsor body in charge of the revamp. The building would be made of bomb and bullet-proof glass and steel and be aesthetically reminiscent of the Crystal Palace built to house the Great Exhibition in the Victorian era.

Property Week reports that the Chanel store on New Bond Street is being prepped for sale by Swedish pension fund SEB, which is seeking offers of over £240m. JLL has been appointed to sell the 12,600 sq ft property in Mayfair, London, which was the luxury brand’s largest boutique in the world when it opened in 2013. Bids will be called in next week and a £240m sale would represent a 2.9% yield.


Architects Journal reports that East London-based practice Henley Halebrown has completed Hackney New Primary School, a 8,180m2 mixed-use project with affordable housing in Hackney’s Kingsland Road Conservation Area. Located opposite Hackney New School, an earlier project also completed by Henley Halebrown in 2013, the Shoreditch-based practice’s latest project is a mixed-use primary school and housing project in Hackney’s Kingsland Road Conservation Area. The Hackney New Primary School, founded in 2015, accommodates 350 pupils, while the adjacent 11-storey apartment block has 68 flats with retail at ground floor level.

The Evening Standard reports that more than 20 community-focused businesses in east London are being evicted to make way for a block of largely private flats. Redbox, a distinctive block of 21 offices made from repurposed shipping containers in Poplar, is set to be knocked down to leave space for a new housing and office complex. The building is owned by local housing association Poplar HARCA. Lisa Stepanovic, a tenant who runs Social Ark, a company that helps local people launch socially-focused businesses, said that she worried for the future of her community.

Hammersmith and Fulham

Construction News reports that Community Engagement Project of the Year finalist from Hammersmith is a strong example of engagement with the local community to positively affect the surrounding area. The 245 scheme has delivered more than £8m of social value during and following its construction. From providing more than 150 jobs for local people against a target of 38, to almost doubling its spend on local SMEs and social enterprises, Lendlease has established a lasting and meaningful legacy in the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.


Building Design reports that Heythrop College scheme finally given green light after developer appealed to Planning Inspectorate. KPF’s plans to convert a listed former Jesuit seminary into luxury retirement housing were finally given the green light last week after a 15-month planning wrangle. The scheme, a few minutes’ walk from Kensington Palace, is aimed at wealthy over-65s and is being masterminded by specialist later life developer Auriens. It will feature 142 homes at the grade II-listed Heythrop College site on Kensington Square, with the homes expected to sell for more than £3m each.


Building Design reports that Stockwool has been given the green light for an £11.6m project in Poplar, east London, which will see a modern extension added to the capital’s oldest surviving brick house. The mixed-use scheme in Tower Hamlets for housing association Poplar Harca will link two grade II-listed buildings with a block providing 22 homes and 533sq m of commercial space and see a second three-storey residential block built behind it providing a further 22 homes.


Architects Journal reports that Fathom Architects has unveiled plans for the latest iteration of charity housing on a south London site used for the purpose since the 1750s. The Southwark-based firm set out designs to construct a part 22-storey, part 15-storey building on the site of Edward Edwards’ House near Blackfriars Bridge. The scheme, for Southwark Charities, would double of the number of almshouses provided to elderly people of limited means – as well as create 20,000m2 of office space.

ITPRO reports that Telehouse has announced plans to further expand its campus in London’s Docklands area by adding a new, 31,000 square metre data centre. The new facility, which will be the Telehouse’s fifth data centre in London Docklands, will stretch across six floors and have a total power capacity of 30MVA. Located approximately 300m away from the existing Telehouse London Docklands data centres, it will be connected to them with the help of a network of existing fibre-optic cables.

Tower Hamlets

Inside Housing reports that Unite theUnion demands investigators release initial findings on Bow crane collapse. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigators must “end the delay” and publish initial findings on the causes of a fatal crane collapse at a housing association development in east London last month, a union has said.


Property Week reports that Israeli billionaire Igal Ahouvi is about to embark on a residential spending spree in the capital funded by an ‘unlimited war chest’. The art collector and businessman is looking to snap up a swathe of “ready up-and-built rented blocks”, primarily in the £30m to £60m price range, in a move that will give a huge boost to the London residential market as it struggles to cope with Covid-19. His advisers told Property Week that Ahouvi viewed London as a “safe haven given the evident housing shortage”.

Property Week reports that Croydon Borough Council has contacted the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government calling for urgent financial assistance to help tackle a sharp fall in revenue caused by Covid-19. A source told Property Week that the council was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, partly as a result of its investment in property.
A spokesperson for the council confirmed it was “facing unprecedented financial pressures brought on by Covid-19, which has seen plummeting income and millions in extra costs, on top of historic government underfunding”.

Finanical Times reports that Office owners are facing millions of pounds of extra costs as they make workplaces ‘pandemic-proof’, in the hope that white-collar employees can be lured back from their homes. New health measures such as touchless entry systems and desk dividers are being introduced with the aim of minimising the spread of infection and reassuring staff, many of whom are concerned that sitting in a communal office will never be as safe as working from home. But implementing these precautions will come at a substantial cost according to Liviu Tudor, president of the European Property Federation and chairman of Genesis. Genesis has drawn up a detailed list of about 100 safety measures which it hopes will become the industry standard, in a similar manner to environmental or fire safety requirements for buildings. They estimate that for a building which cost €20m to build, landlords could expect to pay €400,000 to implement the full range of measures.

The Guardian reports that Councils have accepted hundreds of thousands of pounds from property developers to fund planning guidelines designed to help govern their own schemes, a Guardian analysis has found. In deals that have been criticised for allowing unfair influence and marginalising local residents, bodies including housing developers, landowners and urban regeneration companies paid large sums to draft supplementary planning documents (SPDs), which councillors must then consider when determining planning applications.The planning documents subsequently published set out major and potentially lucrative development strategies for the sites in which they have an interest. The payments are not declared in the documents. Councils, which normally fund SPDs, and developers have denied allegations of conflicts of interest, but critics fear the arrangements mean “poachers become gamekeepers”.