A weekly round up of the latest planning and property news from the central London boroughs
Architects Journal reports that an international competition has been announced to convert a 1.1km stretch of abandoned railway into a £35 million raised linear park connecting Camden Town with King’s Cross [Deadline: 7 October 2020] The two-stage competition – organised by Colander Associates on behalf of the Camden Highline Charity – seeks a design-led team with the ‘right skills and ethos’ to create a new ‘park for everybody, connecting people in the area both physically and with new community activities.’
City of London
Architects Journal reports that Fletcher Priest has revealed plans to build a 146m-tall skyscraper next to Rafael Viñoly’s opinion-splitting Walkie Talkie tower in central London. Submitted to the City of London last month, the application for the 32-storey office scheme at 55 Gracechurch Street includes flattening an existing 1992 building designed by Sheppard Robson. The project for Hong Kong-based developer Tenacity will feature a six-storey podium level providing a mix of shops and space for ‘high-growth, early-stage companies’ and tech businesses set below winter garden-style terraces.
Propert Week reports that McKay Securities has completed the £76.5m sale of 30 Lombard Street in the City of London to pan-European institutional fund REInvest after initially striking the deal nine months ago. The deal reflects a net initial yield of 4.16%, and the proceeds will be used to pay down debt and fund future acquisitions. The sale reduces McKay’s loan-to-value to 29.6% from 37.6% and leaves the group with undrawn facilities of £100m.
Building reports that three firms are looking at the main construction package on the new Museum of London site in Farringdon, Building understands. The high-profile scheme is set to be one of the most fiercely contested in the coming months with Mace, Lendlease and Bam all believed to be on the shortlist.
City of Westminster
Property Week reports that Conservative ministers are urging chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the government job retention scheme to save central London’s night-time economy. The government furlough scheme is due to end in October but a number of Tory MPs have said it will be detrimental for the thousands of jobs in the West End, especially in the live arts sector. “It would be an act of folly to allow London’s night-time economy to disappear all for the sake of a few extra months of furlough,” said Julian Knight, Conservative chairman of the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee.
Property Week reports that the Portfolio Club has exchanged contracts to buy the Wellington block in London’s Covent Garden for £76.5m. The block, which comprises six separate properties, was bought from Capital & Counties. The Portfolio Club, a joint venture between APG and London Central Property, was launched last year to create a new lifestyle hospitality brand in prime central London properties. The property recently received planning consent to develop a 146-bedroom hotel with retail and restaurant space.
Property Week reports that Andrew Hynard is to step down as chief executive of The Howard de Walden Estate early next year. The business – which encompasses 92 acres of London’s Marylebone – has appointed current chief operating officer Mark Kildea as interim chief executive.
Architects Journal reports that Studioshaw has won a competition to design a mixed-use building within the £140 million Wickside development in east London The Shoreditch-based practice will create its 40-home scheme in Hackney Wick after coming top in the invitation contest. Wickside, masterplanned by south-east London architects BUJ, will provide 475 homes as well as a brewery, a foundry, shops, restaurants and art galleries. BUJ, in partnership with developer O’Shea and the London Legacy Development Corporation, ran the competition for the new residential and commercial block.
Property Week reports that London Designer Outlet in Wembley Park has signed fashion brands NICCE and Police to its line-up. NICCE has taken a lease on 1,500 sq ft of space, which will be the brand’s first standalone store, while Police have signed on for an 1,800 sq ft unit – its first store in London. Building on its East London N-Studio powered by NICCE initiative, the company is looking to host live events and DJ sessions.
Hammersmith and Fulham
London news online reports that residents have called on Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to block the planning permission given to a controversial skyscraper hotel. Up to 120 residents are railing against Hammersmith and Fulham council’s planning committee decision to approve the 23-storey hotel, which would be the tallest building in the area. Dominvs Group hopes to build it after demolishing the magistrates’ court which closed in 2017. It will comprise two buildings, one at 10 storeys and a 23-storey tower at the north side, with 842 bedrooms, a gym, restaurant and viewing platform. Despite nearly 150 local objections, and speeches from MP Andy Slaughter and a local ward councillor, the committee voted the plans through on July 21.
The Architects newspaper reports that repairing the Hammersmith Bridge would cost in the ballpark of £187 million—funds that neither Transport for London nor the bridge’s owner, Hammersmith & Fulham Council, have or will likely have in the near future due in large part to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. So, the shuttered bridge, a vital transport link between the district of Barnes in Richmond Upon Thames and the rest of London, remains the collective source of a Grade-A, Grade II-listed headache for those forced to find alternate and presumably less convenient ways to cross the Thames. The debacle has prompted large-scale, socially distanced demonstrations staged by local residents demanding something be done.
Architects Journal reports that the head of the company which designed and installed a new cladding system for the Grenfell Tower has said it is not ‘ultimately’ responsible for combustible material being fitted to the building Ray Bailey, the owner of Harley, told the inquiry into the 2017 fire which killed 72 people that ‘there is a raft of layers’ which should have checked designs and specifications – including Building Control, contractor Rydon, architect Studio E, and the manufacturers of the insulation and cladding.
Architects Journal reports that Labour has accused the government of going back on its promise to implement recommendations from the first phase of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, following a failed bid to pass them in the House of Commons. Opposition MPs tried to force an amendment to the Fire Safety Bill on Monday night, which would have made the measures, relating to the responsibilities of building owners, law. Separate recommendations relating to testing and certification of building materials are expected to be made after the ongoing second phase of the inquiry has been completed.
Property Week reports that Delancey is weighing up a wide range of options for its redevelopment of the 25-acre Earls Court Site, including the creation of a bio-tech hub. The developer snapped up the £425m West London site in November 2019 and has drafted in architects from Hawkins\Brown and Studio Egret West to draw up a masterplan for the site. According to a well-placed source, one possible project being mooted is the creation of a biomedical hub, in the latest sign of growing appetite among investors and developers for the life sciences sector.
Brixton Buzz reports that Lambeth Archives looks set to move to the basement of the new Olive Morris House building in Brixton. It will cost Lambeth Council over £10M to move the borough’s archive from its current Minet Library location. The deal involves giving a 999 year head lease for the new building to MUSE, the developer that was awarded the contract for the site. MUSE will then sub-lease the basement back to Lambeth. This will come at a cost of £8M to the Council. The fit out ahead of the Archives relocating will cost £2M. MUSE will pick up the tab for this.
Property Week reports that Chris Grigg will be replaced by current chief financial officer Simon Carter when he steps down this year. Carter was previously the chief financial officer at pan-European logistics warehouse business Logicor, and earlier in his career he spent over a decade with British Land and was a member of the executive committee from 2012 until 2015.
Property Week reports that London was the city with the highest amount of office investment globally in H1 this year, according to Knight Frank. The city saw £2.6bn worth of investment in the first six months of the year, topping the list of global cities attracting the most investment into offices. Overseas investors accounted for 76.6% of all activity in the period, compared to 85% in Q2 last year. There was more positive news for the industry, as July saw £961m worth of transactions.