Weekly planning news from the central London boroughs

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


Construction Enquirer reports that Murphy & Sons has been awarded an £18.5m contract from Steyn Group for a mixed-use apartment block in north London near its headquarters. Pre-construction work has just started on the 24 private and 12 affordable housing units, as well as some commercial space. The project is expected to be completed by Summer 2022.

Evening Standard reports that GlaxoSmithKline is opening a £10 million research base in King’s Cross to tap into the area’s world-beating artificial intelligence brains and try to find new treatments for cancer and other serious diseases. Glaxo’s site will initially house 30 scientists and engineers who will collaborate with their new neighbours including the Francis Crick and Alan Turing research institutes. Chief executive Emma Walmsley told the Standard she hoped the move would help it tap into the “huge London tech talent pool” and attract scientists to GSK who might traditionally look to the Silicon Valley tech giants.

City of London

EG reports that the costs of making the streets of London’s square mile safer for people returning to work after the COVID-19 pandemic have lept, with the body that governs the area saying it underestimated the staffing requirements. The City of London Corporation is working on a new transportation plan to support the Capital’s financial heartland. The planning and transportation staff costs for the first two phases are already more than £33,000 over the budget, and the corporation expects to need an extra £231,000 to cover staffing costs between now and the end of the year.

Architects Journal reports that 3XN has revealed plans for British Land’s 36-storey tower scheme in Broadgate . Working in partnership with its innovation arm, GXN, the firm is proposing to replace two 1980s buildings by Peter Foggo on the estate with a new high-rise office scheme. The latest scheme, featuring a 12-storey podium with a 35-storey east tower and 20-storey west tower, has now gone out to consultation ahead of a planning submission to the City of London this autumn. British Land said the offices had been designed to ‘ensure flexibility for current and future needs’ and would be interspersed with ‘healthy, green areas and terraces to inspire creative collaboration and social interaction’.

Building reports that Paye Stonework and Restoration has landed a £9.5m deal to restore the interior of Smithfield Meat Market for the new Museum of London. The museum’s £337m plans to move into the historic market buildings at West Smithfield were given the green light by the City of London Corporation in June. Designed by architects Stanton Williams and Asif Khan, the project will aim to restore the site’s mostly Victorian buildings, many of which have fallen into disrepair.

Evening Standard reports that Lloyd’s of London today reopened have a five-month shutdown due to the coronavirus crisis, with a reduced capacity. The 334-year-old insurance market officially reopened after lockdown – its underwriting hall is at 45% capacity with clear screens on underwriting boxes and one-way systems to prevent the spread of Covid. Temperature checks and cleaning using fogging have also been introduced.

City of Westminster

Property Week reports that BP is planning to sell its London headquarters at 1 St James’s Square as it looks to scale back its office footprint. The oil giant plans to sell the building for a price in excess of £300m and lease it back for up to two years. BP chief executive Bernard Looney said the whole business will be moving to a more “hybrid work style” with a blend of remote and office working. BP will take a smaller office in London after the move.

Broadcast Now reports that Sky has opened a new Westminster studio for Sky News, which has been created by its in-house advertising wing, Sky Creative Agency (SCA), in collaboration with Jago Design. The studio space is designed to feel like an extension of other Sky News studios and features a modular desk for a single presenter but that can also cater for a debate with up to four guests in a variety of layouts.

Property Week reports that Savills and Michael Elliot have been instructed to sell Central London office building Queen’s House. The agencies are selling the 13,609 sq ft building on St James’s St, SW1, for a private investor. They are seeking offers in excess of £35m. The building has a lower ground and ground floor with six upper floors, and has potential for increased lettable area through the creation of another floor and infilling at the rear. Vacant possession of the building would be available at short notice.


Hackney Citizen reports that a “people’s alternative” to a residential, office and retail hub on the site of the Morning Lane Tesco, plans for which have seen criticism for their low proportions of affordable housing, is to be presented by campaigners after they have surveyed the community. The Morning Lane People’s Space (MOPS) campaign is to ask locals what they want for the area, claiming that developer Hackney Walk Ltd’s consultation over its plans for public land purchased for £55m by Hackney Council in 2017 was “inadequate”, engaging with little over 100 people.

Hammersmith and Fulham

Property Week reports that Biotech company Engitix Therapeutics has taken 8,000 sq ft at White City Place, west London. Engitix is a drug discovery firm which is developing a portfolio of programmes in fibrosis and solid tumours. The space in the WestWorks building in White City Place will be used as its new UK headquarters and laboratory from next year. Landlords Stanhope, Mitsui Fudosan and AIMCo have also welcomed other life sciences companies to the building in recent years including Novartis, Game Delta, and Synthace.


Building design reports that Amin Taha and his practice Groupwork have revealed bold plans to reinvent a 1970s office building in central London as a mock-Edwardian warehouse using a mesh wrap. The existing six-storey block in Holbon’s Bleeding Heart Yard, a small square close to Hatton Garden, will be overhauled with a neo-Edwardian facade and period windows, all created using brown mesh. The scheme also features a new mansard roof extension providing two extra storeys.


Architects Journal reports that Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners is facing stiff opposition to its plans for South Kensington tube station, with hundreds of residents, five councillors and the local MP all calling for the plans to be rejected. The development would see the Grade II-listed station revamped and extended with a four-storey office block, dubbed the Bullnose. It would also include 50 news homes on a constrained site around the station.  More than 450 objections have been lodged against RSHP’s plans on the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s (RBKC) planning portal, while 12 resident groups have come out against the proposal.


London News Online reports that the next phase of the redevelopment of an estate is set to be debated by planners. Lambeth council’s arm’s-length housing builder, Homes for Lambeth (HFL), has submitted a planning application for 27 flats, half of them affordable, in Fenwick Place. It follows the plans by Transport for London (TfL) to build 55 new affordable homes in Fenwick South, which have already been approved by Lambeth council. Jitinder Takhar, chief executive of Homes for Lambeth, said: “HFL is pleased that we have submitted another planning application to Lambeth council.


The Telegraph reports that plans for an alligator park in a housing development along the Old Kent Road have been scrapped after “significant push-back” from locals. The controversial idea would have seen a Grade II listed Victorian gas holder transformed into a home for the reptiles, and was set to be at the centre of a £230million development boasting housing and offices. Plans showed that former tanks, which extend down 60ft, would be converted into a habitat, while part of the iron frame would be covered with glass to create a giant multi-storey conservatory to provide a “Florida-style” environment.

Tower Hamlets

EG reports that Regal London is working up plans for a £500m hybrid scheme combining flats, industrial uses and an active wharf at Orchard Wharf. The development is Regal London’s largest to date comprising 826 flats of mixed tenure, 83,260sqft of logistics, waterfront freight and public realm.

Inside Housing reports that the development company owned by Richard Desmond has offered to pay a £43m Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charge on the proposed Westferry Printworks development, after his initial application controversially escaped the levy. In response to the government’s call for new information on the 1,500-home east London development, Westferry Developments offered to pay the charge but has refused to increase the quantum of affordable housing – a major point of contention in the initial application.


Property Week reports that occupier leasing in Central London tumbled by 57% across the second quarter of 2020, according to a new report from DeVono Cresa. The occupier-only consultancy said that prime rents have also started to decline, with a 3% drop for Grade A space and 5% fall for Grade B space on average. Small and medium-sized businesses deferred leasing decisions in Q2 2020, as average deal sizes rose by 41%. Meanwhile, availability has continued to climb, albeit by a slower than expected pace, at 8% over the quarter. Total office space leased for the first half of 2020 was 3.9m sq ft, 43%, down on H1 2019.

Property Week reports that some of the UK’s biggest agency firms have delayed their 2020 graduate programmes until at least early in the new year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.  CBRE and JLL have confirmed that their September intake will now join the programme in January 2021, while Colliers International and Avison Young have also both deferred their programmes but not yet confirmed the start date. Knight Frank is going ahead with its scheme as planned this month. Savills also plans to go ahead with its graduate programme this month but has moved to a “virtual learning programme” rather than a face-to-face process.