A weekly round up of the latest planning and property news from the central London boroughs
Inside Housing reports that One Housing’s regeneration proposals have been rejected by residents of the Gilbeys Yard and Juniper Crescent estates in Camden. This is the first scheme to have been voted down by popular vote since Mayor Sadiq Khan introduced the policy of ballots for regeneration schemes seeking Greater London Authority funding in 2018. The scheme had planned to provide between 650 and 700 new homes for the borough, of which 50% would be deemed affordable.
City of London
A survey carried out by the City’s governing body has revealed that Square Mile workers, visitors and residents think that cycling and renewable energy are the most effective ways for the City of London Corporation to tackle climate change. The survey was launched as part of the City of London Corporation’s plans to launch a Climate Action Strategy next month which will outline what the organisation will do ensure the Square Mile – and the sites run by the City Corporation itself – become net-zero emission and climate resilient in the future. Over 2,600 people responded to the City Corporation’s online survey which asked for their views on climate change.After being asked to select up to three changes that they would welcome, 59% backed better cycling provisions and renewable energy, with 53% choosing more green roofs and walls.
City of Westminster
The Times reports that John Lewis is looking to slash the size of its flagship store on Oxford Street in London, as part of efforts to turn around the business. The department store branch, which has had a presence in the capital since 1864, could cut its trading space by almost a half. Its sister business Waitrose, meanwhile, is shutting a further three branches and selling one to Tesco, putting 124 jobs at risk. John Lewis has asked Westminster council to approve plans to convert excess space into offices to rent out, the Evening Standard first reported. A spokesperson said that obtaining the permission, for floors three to eight, would give it more flexibility on how they use the space more efficiently.
Construction Enquirer reports that the Swedish construction firm Skanska has secured the contract to the £72m Norfolk House redevelopment project for client Sateria Investments. The project will include the reconstruction of the period façade, in addition to excavation work to create a deeper basement and the construction of a new contemporary double mansard roof. As part of the contract, Skanska will also refit the services to this historic building. The scheme, designed by Architect Make, aims to target environmental standards to achieve BREEAM excellent standards. Work is set to start this Autumn and is due to be completed in September 2022.
Property Week reports that weekly footfall in the West End is down 56% compared to this time last year. Whilst figures pointed towards a steady increase prior to July, this appears to have stagnated since August, as most office workers continue to work from home. The lack of international tourists to the area has further compounded this. Jace Tyrell, chief executive at New West End Company, has suggested that up to 50,000 jobs could be lost without government intervention.
Hammersmith and Fulham
Construction Enquirer reports that the government has formed a taskforce to reopen the Hammersmith bridge after it was closed last month for safety reasons. The announcement came from transport secretary Grant Schapps on Twitter, as he posted: “Londoners have waited too long for Hammersmith Bridge to be fixed so they can get on with their journeys.” The taskforce, which will be chaired by transport minister Baroness Vere, will prioritise reopening the bridge for cyclists and pedestrians before turning their focus to motor traffic.
Building reports that Farringdon-based developer Red Construction has secured the contract to an £8.1m redevelopment project, involving a Victorian mansion in a Clapham once owned by 19th century English sanitary engineer, George Jennings. The mansion, which sits in a conservation area, will be turned into 19 upmarket apartments. The scheme which will be designed by architects Darling Associates, will also include a new build. Building is due to be complete next Spring.
Brixton Buzz reports that Lambeth Council is being forced to find new funding for the regeneration of Cressingham Gardens following the Mayor’s withdrawal from a previous agreement. The Mayor delivered a major blow to the council, who refused to allow a tenant’s ballot – a change was introduced by Mr Khan in 2018. The regeneration project has recently been estimated to cost £110m. It has been announced that the sites Central Hill and Fenwick will also not be entitled to funding, as long as Lambeth council continues with their current position.
London SE1 reports that The Mayor of London has overruled Southwark council to call in the St Thomas Street office scheme. Previously refused planning permission by Southwark council in June, due to “excessive height, scale and massing” and impact on the local conservation area, the scheme, designed by architects KPF, now moves into a public hearing where the final decision rests with the Mayor. Proponents of the scheme argue that it would have a significant impact on the implementation of the London Plan.
The Evening Standard reports that Elephant and Castle shopping centre is set to close at the end of the month to clear space for a new large-scale development project in the area. Part of a £3b regeneration package, the new site will include nearly 1,000 new homes and a new university campus for the London College of Communication. Despite intense opposition from locals, the scheme was approved by the Mayor of London’s office in December 2018. Construction is due to start from midnight on 24th September and will take five years to complete.
The East London Advisor reports that the London Fields based Architecture practice, Gordon Shrigley has secured planning permission for a mixed housing and commercial complex in the heart of Bethnal Green’s historic market area. Acting on behalf of EKS developers, Gordon Shrigley has designed the scheme so that it is sympathetic to the local townscape, retaining the traditional Victorian façade, whilst also allowing for modern extensions towards the back, facing Weavers Field park.
My London reports that a new scheme for the construction of 106 new homes on the Surrey Lane Estate in Battersea has been granted planning permission, despite concerns from local ward councillors. Councillors cited the removal of a car park, demolition of the day centre and relocation of a play area as being problematic. When completed, the Wandsworth Council scheme will provide 49 affordable dwellings, including 27 social rent units and 22 shared ownership homes.
Sadiq Khan has called for new powers to introduce rent controls in the capital for two years. The mayor of London yesterday called on the government to give him the authority to freeze rents for two years, warning of a rise in evictions and homelessness as the end of the furlough scheme approaches. Khan’s request comes as courts prepare to restart eviction proceedings which were halted during lockdown.
The Times reports that Brookfield Asset Management has increased its stake in British Land, stoking speculation about a future takeover approach for the UK-listed property company. Brookfield holds 9.2 per cent of British Land, a regulatory filing revealed yesterday. It has increased its interest almost four months after disclosing a 7.3 per cent stake in the company. The acquisition comes after Bruce Flatt, 55, chief executive of Brookfield, met his senior team in London this month, prompting rumours that he is eyeing private equity deals for British companies. The Toronto-based firm manages about $550 billion of assets and its holdings span property, infrastructure, private equity and credit investments.