Weekly planning news from the central London boroughs

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


The Telegraph reports that Google is reportedly in talks to purchase the £750m Central Saint Giles development in Holborn. Designed by Italian architect, Renzo Piano, the office scheme is well-known for its distinctive, colourful façade. The property is co-owned by Legal & General Investment Management and the Mitsubishi Estate and was completed in 2010. Google already lets 40pc of the property, which it moved into in 2011. Google is also in the process of constructing a new campus in King’s Cross, which will be able to house up to 4,500 employees. The use of Central Saint Giles would give Google further flexibility with its King’s Cross development, which does not yet have a completion date.

Architects Journal reports that ORMS has been given the green light to convert the former Central Saint Martins campus on Southampton Row in Bloomsbury into a £242m hotel complex. The campus currently contains a Grade II*-listed Lethaby building, the Red Lion Building, an innovation centre; a theatre; and a link bridge. The plans to transform the site for Global Grange Hotels, include a 427-room hotel, restaurants, shops, lecture halls, a spa and co-working and conference space. More than half of the space will be dedicated to the new hotel, which will occupy 12 floors of the refurbished Lethaby Building and Red Lion Building. The Red Lion Building will also include a rooftop restaurant, bar and terrace. There will also be 24 affordable homes, separated from the rest of the development by a walkway to be called Orange Street, where a public courtyard will provide a focal point for the complex. The project is expected to cost £242m to build and will be ORMS’ second hotel project in the area.

City of London


Property Week reports that US based Insurance Company W R Berkley has appointed agents Cushman & Wakefield and Eastdil to sell its City of London tower, the Scalpel. Whilst no guide price has been set, the business is said to be looking for around £820m, which would reflect a yield of 3.5%. The majority of the Scalpel’s 500,000 sq ft space is let, with just four floors of 35,157 sq ft of space remaining. The Lime Street property currently serves as W R Berkley’s European Headquarters.

The Financial Times reports that the City of London wants to encourage small businesses and those in the arts sector to “re-enter the city centre” to help the UK’s financial capital recover from the economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic. The City of London Corporationhas drawn up a plan to create start-up hubs and more affordable workplaces in London for smaller businesses, many of which have been hard hit by the Covid-19 lockdown. The plan also recommends that “flexible working” season tickets for rail travel be considered in line with new commuter behaviour in order to accommodate some homeworking. The City has also said that buildings need to be better designed for remote working practices, with spaces to socialise and meet. The City wants a fifth of office tenants to be new to the Square Mile by 2025, half of journeys between rail and workplaces to be walked or cycled with the development of pedestrianised and bike routes, and a 50 per cent increase in weekend and evening visitors.

EG reports that DWS Group is to put Capital House in the City of London up for sale with a price tag of circa £145m. The firm is understood to have appointed JLL to find a buyer for the nine-storey building at 85 King William Street.


The Hackney Citizen reports that Hackney Council is calling for residents to provide their feedback on the proposed introduction of a number of child-friendly principles into the borough’s future development principles. The principles, which were designed through workshops with the Hackney Youth Parliament, would seek to give children and young people a greater voice in how their neighbourhood changes. These principles also reflect the manifesto commitment for Hackney to become a fully child-friendly borough, maximising opportunities for safe play and outdoor activities. If enacted, new residential developments would require playable space directly outside of their entrances. A decision on whether to adopt the proposed principles will come later this autumn.

Hammersmith and Fulham

Property Week reports that investor Henley has acquired two sites in Fulham, London, in an off-market deal with plans to build a 300-home development along the riverfront. The sites comprise undeveloped land between Wandsworth Bridge and the railway at Imperial Wharf which had been previously consented for a mixed-use scheme before the permission lapsed. The two separate sites will be treated as a combined plot as the project moves on to seek planning permission. Ian Rickwood, chief executive of Henley, added: “Our ambition for this site is aligned with our track-record for identifying and unlocking land for residential development, both in the UK, such as in Ebbsfleet, as well as in the USA.”


Construction Enquirer reports that construction company Gilbert Ash has secured the contract to build a 180-room Premier Inn hotel in Clerkenwell. The £35m project is set to build the new hotel at the top of Farringdon Road near the Mount Pleasant housing scheme. The scheme is a joint effort between leisure group Whitbread and developer Endurance land, with Sheppard Robson as the architects onboard. The building will provide 100,000 sq ft of space and will include offices and street level retail units.

Kensington and Chelsea

Architects Journal reports that Karakusevic Carson Architects, Penroye & Prasad and ECD Architects have won a competition for £57.9m upgrade to the 795-home Lancaster West Estate surrounding Grenfell Tower. Forty residents were involved in the decision-making process to select the winning bidders alongside Kensington & Chelsea council. The design team will be expected to deliver on a government promise that the council estate would be turned into a “model social housing estate for the 21st century.” The planned works for the estate includes the external refurbishment of the blocks and upgrading of internal communal areas and works within individual flats.


Construction Enquirer reports that contractor McAleer & Rushe has been appointed by developer Muse to build a new archive for Lambeth Council along with 74 new homes. The project to demolish Olive Morris House, the former council offices in Brixton, is due to be complete by the end of the year with the new building due to be finished in late 2022. The new building will be home to the borough’s extensive archive collections, which document 1,000 years of the area’s local history and hold 500 years’ worth of records. In terms of the accommodation provision, 60% of the residential units will be reserved for market sale, with the remaining 40% available at affordable tenures. Additional commercial and retail space will be provided at ground level and basement levels. This represents the final stage of £135m Lambeth Town Hall scheme. 


South London Press reports that plans for a new office building in Peckham for Southwark council’s children and housing services are set to be scrapped due to the impact of the pandemic and its financial implications. The building in Asylum Road, known as Queen’s Road 4, which was controversial with some residents, was due to go to planning in June and, if approved, opened in 2022. Now the council is considering building temporary accommodation alongside office space, in light of the “fundamental shift in ways of working.” Cllr Rebecca Lury, the cabinet member for finance and resources said in a foreword to the report to the cabinet: “while ensuring we are not over-providing office space that may no longer be provided, we can also address some of the acute issues around the availability of temporary accommodation in the borough.” This move comes after council announced during that summer it would be “pausing” the plans, on which it had already spent more than £2m out of an estimated £20m overall cost for the project.

Tower Hamlets

The East London Advisor reports that plans for a 600-home residential skyscraper scheme have been submitted to Tower Hamlets Council for planning permission. The 62-storey tower would be among the tallest in the country and would be the fourth highest in the Docklands after the One Canada Square office block, the Landmark Pinnacle residential tower and the soon-to-be-completed Newfoundland development. The £250m scheme by Maccreanor Lavington developers would replace the six-storey Ensign House built in 1987, after Hong-Kong based investors Far East Consortium bought the site in February for £28m. 


CityAM reports that West End landlord Shaftesbury will tap investors for £300m amid a sharp downturn in central London footfall during the coronavirus pandemic.The property firm announced that it intends to raise around £297m through a discounted offer of new shares, with the potential to raise £307m dependent on investor appetite. Shaftesbury, which owns 16 acres of property in the West End, is offering the new shares at 400p, a 20 per cent discount on yesterday’s closing price of 501p.


The Times reports that Landsec is to sell off close to a third of its £12.8bn property portfolio, as it seeks to reduce its exposure to struggling sectors such as retail. Mark Allan, chief executive of the FTSE 100 property company, announced it would sell roughly £4bn worth of assets, 60 per cent of them in London, over the next four to five years and reinvest in areas of the market where it could eke out the most value. The new strategy entailed “a meaningful repositioning towards a more focused portfolio with greater growth prospects,” said Mr Allan on Monday. The company said it would pull back from sectors in which it has “little or no competitive advantage”, such as hotels, leisure properties and retail parks. Any new investment would come after sales in those areas, and would be focused on “urban opportunities”. That could “certainly include” urban logistics, healthcare and housing developments, said Mr Allan, who also hinted that Landsec might invest in retirement housing. The developer remained committed to London, which it described as “one of the world’s gateway cities”, but said it would sell some assets to reinvest capital into “new growth opportunities”.

EG reports that retail and leisure landlords are facing a flood of lease expiries over the next five years that could see close to 1bn sqft of space and thousands of over-rented assets back on the market. Analysis using EG’s Radius Data Exchange shows that almost 65% of retail and food and beverage leases signed since 2015 will expire or have lease breaks between now and 2025, potentially delivery some 975m sqft back to landlords. one-third of retail and leisure units that have a lease event due over the next decade are over-rented.