Weekly planning news from the central London boroughs

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


Architects Journal reports that a shortlist of five teams has been announced in the international competition to design a £35m highline park connecting Camden Town with King’s Cross. The shortlist comprises UK-based firms Benedetti, Feilden Fowles and We Made That; French firm Agence Ter and American practice James Corner Field Operations. These teams will now receive £10,000 to participate in the second phase of the tender process. The Camden Highline project, which plans to open in phases from 2024, will create a new central London park and linear walking route on 1.1km stretch of abandoned railway, formerly part of the North London Railway. Inspired by the New York Highline, it will feature seating areas, cafes, arts and open event spaces.

City of London

EG reports that TikTok is close to signing a major leasing deal at Helical’s latest office development, Kaleidoscope in Farringdon. The China-based social media firm is expected to take the entire six-storey circa 88,600 sq ft building, which is located east of Smithfield Market. JLL and Pilcher Hershman are the leasing agents for Kaleidoscope which completed works in December last year. This news comes after reports in August that ByteDance, the Chinese firm behind the social media app, was considering opening a head office in the UK as its relationship with the US government has soured in recent months.


Architects Journal reports that Hackney Council has approved De Metz Forbes Knight’s (dMFK) plans to demolish a historic residential block and build new student housing in its place. Thoresby House on City Road will be replaced with a 12-storey 140 bed scheme, which will include studios, communal lounges, amenity and teaching spaces and roof terraces. The scheme was backed by Arcadia University – a not-for-profit education provider offering placements to US students on exchanges. The scheme was approved despite opposition from local groups, such as The Hackney Society and Shoreditch Conservation Area Advisory Committee who warned that ‘substantial’ and ‘irreparable’ harm would be caused as a result of the loss of Thoresby House.

Hammersmith and Fulham

The Evening Standard reports that Transport Minister Baroness Vere has revealed that Hammersmith Bridge will not be ‘fully open’ to motorised vehicles until 2027. The news was announced last week in a virtual meeting of the task force set up by Transport Secretary Grant Schapps in September. Roads Minister Baroness Vere, who heads the taskforce told the meeting that a full repair would take six and a half years, more than twice as long as previously feared. She also informed the meeting that a ferry service to allow pedestrians to cross the Thames will not start operating until the Spring. Hammersmith Bridge was shut to pedestrians and cyclists in Augusts when the heatwave caused cracks to worsen. 

Kensington and Chelsea

Property Funds World reports that real estate finance specialist ASK Partners (ASK) has lent £25.5m against a freehold site in Chelsea to be developed by UAE-based Gulf Islamic Investments (GII). The site is well-located within a highly desirable part of Chelsea, just a short walk from Sloane Square and Knightsbridge. The existing building was once used as a police station, which will be demolished to provide 31 residential units and commercial space. The developers plan to execute the scheme to a very high specification, creating a build which is commensurate with its exclusive central London address.


The Wandsworth Times reports that full plans to demolish an estate in Brixton and Camberwell have been announced online. Developers Riverside and Bellway have joined forces, forming ‘Lambeth Regeneration LLP’, as they lobby for demolition of the estate off Coldharbour Lane to build 441 new homes across six blocks ranging from five to 13 storeys. The current 135-homes estate is made up of Geoffrey Close, York Close, and Canterbury Close. The new development would provide 134 socially rented homes, one affordable home and 306 market rent homes. A total of 30.6% of the homes will be affordable, falling short of the 35% target set by the mayor. This follows a residents’ ballot which took place in 2018 and found that that 67% of people were in favour of the redevelopment. If the plans are approved, Bellway and Riverside are hoping to start construction in 2021. 


The Evening Standard reports that Mayor Sadiq Khan has confirmed that City Hall will move from its current headquarters in Southwark to the Crystal building, in the Royal Docks in Newham. The Mayor has suggested that this move would save £61m over five years – £6m more than initially thought. The move was first proposed by Mr Khan in June after being told that the GLA’s income from council tax and business rates was likely to fall by £493m over the next 18 months. He said activating a “break clause” in the City Hall lease would enable GLA staff and the London Assembly to move to The Crystal, already in GLA ownership, and would speed the regeneration of the Royal Docks. The new premises at the Crystal building will only have capacity for up to 200 of the GLA’s 1190 staff; as result the remaining staff will stay in Southwark, moving to the London Fire Brigade headquarters in Union Street. The Mayor’s decision has been received poorly by some critics who suggest that it will reduce the status of London Government.


Construction Enquirer reports that a Taylor Wimpey joint venture is searching for a contractor to bid for a £30m mixed-use scheme in Battersea. The York Road and Winstanley Regeneration LLP, which is a joint venture between the London Borough of Wandsworth and Taylor Wimpey, comprises a number of community buildings, retail and amenity spaces and 2,290 mixed-tenure residential units. The work will include provision of commercial space and around 132 residential units across three residential blocks and associated external works. Expressions of interest can be made up to November 9.


The Financial Times reports that Oil and Gas giant BP is close to selling its global headquarters in London for £250m. The office, situated at 1 St James’s Square, currently houses around 500 employees. It will be sold as part of an effort to make cost savings and accelerate the modernisation of the firm under its new chief executive. The building is under offer to Lifestyle International Holdings, a Hong Kong-based investor.

Architects Journal reports that the Mayor Sadiq Khan has approved Allies and Morrison’s proposals for a 20-storey tower in Paddington, after it was previously refused by Westminster City Council in September. After calling in the scheme, the Mayor has now given it the go-ahead, concluding that harm to heritage assets would be ‘less than substantial’ and would be outweighed by public benefits. He added that the scheme has demonstrated a high standard of sustainable design. The mixed-use scheme at 5 Kingdom Street, close to Westway in Paddington, will feature more than 48,000 sq m of office space, along with 3,900 sq m of affordable workspace, 3,390 sq m of flexible commercial/leisure/cultural space, shops, an auditorium, a public garden and an education and community area.


Property Week reports that Derwent London has collected 89% of its office rent collection for the September quarter day, climbing from 83% when it last updated the market a month ago. The landlord said there had been good tenant engagement and reported £16m of leases which have been extended since June, with another £5m under offer. It added that there had been further progress on developments, with detailed design underway at its next major development, 19-35 Baker Street W1, comprising 293,000 sq ft, for a start on site in H2 2021. Soho Place and The Featherstone Building, totalling 410,000 sq ft, is also under construction for completion in H1 2022 with 61% pre-let or forward sold.

EG reports that developer HUB is gearing up to double its £1bn residential pipeline on the back of bullish outlook for build-to-rent growth after Covid-19. As part of this strategy it has hired two acquisition managers tasked with finding new lan opportunities across the UK, in expansion from London and the South East.