A weekly round up of the latest planning and property news from the central London boroughs
The Evening Standard reports that UK real estate investment trust Segro has acquired a new site in Kentish Town. The site, which is said to be a former Addison Lee garage, is expected to be used as warehouse space, subject to planning permission. Segro, which counts Amazon and Ocado as customers, has seen increased demand from retailers looking for more logistics space to cope with a surge in online shopping as a result of the pandemic. In June the company raised £680 million via a share placing to help fund new purchases. Recent buys include sites in Canning Town and Perivale Park in west London. Segro is understood to have paid around £8.5m for the site.
City of London
Estates Gazette reports that WELPUT is reportedly in talks to buy the leasehold for 7 Newgate, EC1, from German asset manager Doric Partners. The six-storey property is being vacated by tenant Axa Investment Managers, which occupied the building for 20 years and is relocating to 22 Bishopsgate. Earlier this year, Doric submitted a planning application designed by Morrow + Lorraine Architects to the City of London Corporation to overhaul the building. The plans aimed to increase the office space by 11,797 sq ft to 113,774 sq ft and included a new rooftop pavilion. WELPUT already has a portfolio of nine London assets, most recently valued in Q2 at £988.2m.
Hackney Citizen reports that a “serious cyber-attack” last month has effectively frozen the borough’s property market. Among many other services, the cyber-attack has affected the council’s land charges processing system, without which information relating to whether the land on which property is situated has any restrictions cannot be passed on to successive owners. The Town Hall has said that it hopes to restore a partial service “in the coming weeks” but is not expecting to be able to carry out full searches “for some time”, with no timeframe currently able to be provided.
Hammersmith and Fulham
South London Press reports that a temporary traffic crossing is still being considered by the Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce, according to a letter received by Wandsworth council leader Ravi Govindia. Baroness Vere, who is leading the taskforce, responded to a letter from the council leader calling on the government to help relieve pressure on nearby bridges, which have been affected by additional traffic since Hammersmith Bridge’s closure in April 2019. In her response she acknowledged that the “Taskforce has not ruled out other potential temporary solutions, including proposals for a temporary bridge as we work through plans to stabilise the bridge and ultimately return it to full use.” Following the exchange, Cllr Govindia said he was “heartened” to hear that the minister is still exploring the option of a road bridge “in order to bring relief to our residents and businesses”. This news comes after an announcement last month that the existing bridge would not be reopened to motor vehicles until 2027.
React News reports that Credit Suisse has secured funding for the £130m Panther House office-led redevelopment scheme in Farringdon. The fund acquired the site at 156-164 Gray’s Inn Road earlier this year from Argo Real Estate, Investec and Dukelease. The planning consented scheme has been designed by architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and will provide 82,000 sq ft of office, residential and retail space.
Construction Enquirer reports that Foster + Partners have revealed plans to build the capital’s “first-ever net zero carbon workplace and commercial hub” in Southwark. The scheme will sit on stilts to allow trees and open public space to run beneath the building and will include winter gardens and landscaped roof terraces. The 510,000 sq ft office-led, mixed-use scheme, known as Colechurch House, which is located near London Bridge Station will also provide a theatre, shops, restaurant, bar and gym. If the scheme receives planning permission from Southwark Council, construction is set to begin as early as spring/summer next year with the aim of completing the project by 2024.
Estates Gazette reports that Malaysian developer IMJ Land is selling a £350m mixed-use residential scheme near to the Tower of London. It is seeking a buyer for the final phase of Royal Mint Gardens, comprising a 236-bedroom hotel, 33 serviced apartments and 79 luxury flats. IMJ bought the 999-year leasehold on the 2.7-acre site from Zog Group for £20m in 2012 for its first UK scheme.
The Evening Standard reports that a row has broken out over China’s plans to build its largest European embassy in Tower Hamlets at the old Royal Mint site. China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming has written to the mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs to say he believes councillors are “attempting to disrupt” the new embassy.He also expressed his “grave concern” over a motion proposed by Liberal Democrat councillor Rabina Khan and Conservative Peter Golds, that asked the council to publicly raise its opposition to the Chinese treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang and new laws in Hong Kong. John Biggs said in response to the dispute: “It’s right that the Chinese government are challenged on this and that we should do what we can to raise this issue and put pressure on the Chinese Government on matters of international law and human rights.” China bought the Royal Mint for £250m in 2018.
Property Funds World reports that October turnover in the West End market exceeded £1bn in a sign of continued liquidity and sustained investor appetite for core, well-located assets, according to the latest research from Savills. Whilst cumulative annual turnover remains 50 per cent below the previous five years’ average, 2020 is the highest October volume ever recorded in the West End and represents 37 per cent of the total annual transaction volume to date. Key deals include a 50 per cent interest in The Nova Estate, SW1, which CPPIB sold to Suntec for £430.6 million, the freehold interest in 158-159 New Bond Street, which SEB sold to the building’s sole occupier, Chanel, for £310m, and White City Place, W12, which Mitsui Fudosan / Stanhope sold to Cadillac Fairview for £235m.
Financial Times reports that British Land said it has sold more than £400m of retail properties since the pandemic erupted and plans further disposals, as the FTSE 100 group revealed the damage the crisis has inflicted on its portfolio. The group, which is best-known for its office buildings, including London’s Broadgate, said that the overall value of its portfolio had fallen from £11.2bn on March 31 to £10.3bn on September 30. Its retail portfolio suffered the most, losing 15 per cent over the period for a valuation of £3.2bn at the end of September, British Land said on Wednesday. Since then, the UK government has imposed a further lockdown on all non-essential retailers in an effort to combat a resurgence of the virus. Reflecting the fact that office properties have generally been hit less hard by lockdowns, British Land said office tenants had paid 97 per cent of the £48m in rent they owed during the period. Retail tenants paid just 62 per cent of the £64m they owed. Colm Lauder, an analyst at Goodbody, said that the property group was “increasingly becoming a London office specialist”. It had “made real progress where its come to [retail] disposals, despite having an investment market that’s largely paralysed as a result of Covid”, he added.