A weekly round up of the latest planning and property news from the central London boroughs
City of London
Financial Times reports that The City of London wants to foster growth in sectors such as green finance, fintech and the creative industries, according to a post-pandemic recovery plan for the financial district. The City of London Corporation, which governs the area, is reviewing its long-term strategy, including planning policies to reflect flexible working practices. It will push for the adoption of new “smart city” technology and renewable energy networks.These will form part of a consultation with businesses and residents on a five-year “blueprint” to revive the Square Mile, as the City is known, which is facing questions over its future from the twin threats of Brexit and the pandemic.
Business Traveller reports that Austrian hoteliers, Rudolf and Christian Ploberger have acquired Boundary House from GR Properties UK Limited with plans to transform the site into a mixed-use development comprising a 300-room hotel and serviced offices. The sale price is estimated to have been around £31m. The site is located on Jewry Street, within walking distance of London Fenchurch Street railway station, and Aldgate Underground station. This acquisition marks Ploberger’s second investment in the capital after they previously owned Bow Street Magistrates Court in Covent Garden, which htye sold in 2016 and is now home to the NoMad London.
Kensington & Chelsea
Costar reports that Sirosa has leased the iconic Kensington Roof Gardens to a new Private Members Club. The rooftop property was previously home to Richard Branson’s Virgin Party venue until 2018. Sirosa purchased the 15,000 sq ft space and 0.6 acres of gardens in 2013 for £225m, outbidding the Qatar Investment Authority by paying £25 million over the £200 million asking price. The roof gardens were designed and built by landscape architect Ralph Hancock in 1936 and were modelled on Hancock’s famous ‘Garden of the Nations’ of 1933-1935 which was laid out on the eleventh floor of the RCA building at Rockefeller Center in New York City.
Brixton Buzz reports that developers have applied to demolish the existing waste transfer station on Shakespeare Road and replace it with a residential development comprising three blocks ranging from 5-11 storeys in height, providing 217 residential units. The proposals also include new public realm and a central courtyard. 25% of the homes will be affordable with a variety of unit sizes to meet local needs. Under the proposals, the waste site would be transferred to another site in West Norwood.
Architects Journal reports that construction work has begun on a £29 million housing project in Bermondsey by Studio Woodroffe Papa and French practice Poggi Architecture. Sitting on a former industrial site surrounded by housing estates and a railway viaduct, the 13,935 sq m project features ground floor ‘productive spaces’ below 111 flats. Plans also include a shared courtyard at its centre with garden and children’s play area plus collective roof terraces on first and fourth floor levels. The scheme’s buildings will range from 4-9 storeys in height. The development aims to deliver 44% affordable housing, exceeding Southwark Council’s benchmark level. Construction is scheduled to last 23 months and complete in Summer 2022.
Inside Housing reports that Funding Affordable Homes (FAH), which invests in UK affordable housing, has purchased 35 apartments in the 75-storey Landmark Pinnacle building from City Pride for £11m. The shared-ownership homes will be managed by social landlord Poplar Harca. The acquisition follows an earlier deal between developer City Pride and FAH for 173 affordable homes at the nearby Island Point development in March, in a deal worth £28.8m. FAH has so far acquired around £170m of socially beneficial housing projects in London, the East and South of England.
Inside Housing reports that Poplar Harca has appointed house builder Hill to deliver its Teviot Estate regeneration project in Tower Hamlets, which will deliver 2,500 new homes. Hill will partner with the housing association to deliver the new homes as well as new green and play spaces, shops, community and faith facilities and improved infrastructure. The builder was selected following a procurement process led by a resident steering group and an independent advisor after a regeneration ballot saw residents vote 81% in favour of proposals. Hill said it will provide a comprehensive social value package for the community over the lifetime of the development, including employment and training opportunities, enhancing of community facilities and contributing to existing services. There will also be extensive infrastructure investment to better connect the Teviot Estate to surrounding areas and transport hubs.
Property Week reports that Cain International has agreed a £74m development loan with Canary Wharf Group and hospitality firm edyn for an aparthotel in Tower Hamlets. The 279-key Locke aparthotel in Wood Wharf will cover 130,000 sq ft and comprise 194 studio apartments and 85 larger apartments. Guests will have access to a rooftop restaurant, co-working space and more than 3,200 sq ft of retail space. The scheme will be delivered by Canary Wharf Contractors and construction started in December.
Bdaily reports that the Yorkshire leisure and entertainment company, Gravity Active Entertaiment, has announced that it is launching a new venue at Southside shopping centre in Wandsworth, which is co-owned by Landsec and Invesco Real Estate. The venue, which will host a ‘fully themed’ leisure and food experience, is expected to open in summer 2021, and represents a £4m investment by Southside JV. The unit, which is a former Debenhams store, is 80,000 square feet and covers four floors.
Building Design reports that BDP’s £500m Northern Estate programme has been scrapped, placing AHMM’s plans to convert Richmond House into a pop-up parliament in jeopardy. Confirmation of the decision was made in a letter from Sarah Johnson, chief executive of the Restoration and Renewal Sponsor Body, and David Goldstone, chief executive of the Delivery Authority, to Meg Hillier, chair of the Public Accounts Committee. The letter informed the R&R Programme of the closure of the Northern Estate Programme, in favour of a new approach of having a more “agile set of projects”.
Property Funds World reports that Allianz Real Estate, acting on behalf of several Allianz group companies, has increased its London exposure via its first office equity investment in the city, acquiring a 75% interest in a three-building portfolio owned by British Land, who will retain the remaining 25% as part of a joint venture. The purchase price was £401m. The three assets – 10 Portman Square, Marble Arch House and York House – are located in Marylebone in the West End. Constructed between 2007 and 2014, the fully let, 29,000 sq m portfolio is BREEAM certified and fulfil the CRREM benchmark.
Property Week reports that the London office market saw almost £5bn of transactions in the last quarter of 2020 as the market showed signs of stabilising with the announcement of the mass vaccination programme in the UK and the EU trade deal. The £9.4bn worth of transactions over the year was however down on the annual average of £12.5bn. The momentum of December is expected to continue into 2021, Knight Frank said, with around 58% more stock available in the London office market compared with the beginning of last year. Investors are said to be targeting assets in the City of London and West End given that London’s office yields outstrip most major European gateway cities.
Property Week reports that Great Portland Estates has collected 77% of rent due in December and signed £2.4m of new annual rent in the last quarter. In a trading update this morning the group confirmed that it has now collected 85% of March, June and September rent due, and has £16.5m of rent deposits and bank guarantees held, of which £2.1m is expected to be used against outstanding December rent. The firm has total liquidity of £441m, with a property loan-to-value of 18.2% and substantial headroom above group debt covenants.