A weekly round up of the latest planning and property news from the central London boroughs
Architects Journal reports that the Camden Highline design competition has been won by James Corner Field Operations, which also led the team behind the original New York High Line. They beat four other finalists: eilden Fowles Architects; Benedetti Architects; We Made That with Hassell and Agence Ter. The Camden Highline project will create a £35 million raised linear park inspired by the New York High Line and featuring seating areas, cafés, arts and cultural interventions and spaces for charitable activities. It is planned to open in phases from 2024. The scheme aims to regenerate a 1.1km stretch of abandoned railway, formerly part of the North London Railway, creating a 10-minute pedestrian link between Kentish Town Road in Camden Town and Camley Street in King’s Cross.
City of London
Bloomberg reports that DWS Group has abandoned plans to sell a City office building at 85 King William Street after bids fell short of its £145m The German asset manager majority-owned by Deutsche Bank AG will now carry out a partial renovation, according to a DWS spokesman. The recent departure of some tenants from the building known as Capital House contributed to the low bids, according to people familiar with the matter. While the easing of coronavirus restrictions helped boost activity in London’s office market late last year, the latest lockdown, which has further delayed the return of workers to offices, has again put a damper on sales, particularly for properties that need modernising.
Property Week reports that British Land’s flexible workspace brand will be opening its twelfth location in spring this year.Storey will open the doors to its 48,000 sq ft development set across the first and second floors of 100 Liverpool Street at British Land’s Broadgate estate in the City of London. The space has been designed with Gensler, and the building recently received a BREEAM ’outstanding’ rating and is on track to receive a WELL gold certification. The development is part of British Land’s £1.5bn investment in Broadgate, which it hopes to transform into a “world-class” mixed-use destination.
Architects Journal reports that The City of London is set to approve an office scheme designed by 3XN which features a 170m-tall tower on the edge of the Broadgate estate next week as it goes to committee. Developer British Land want to demolish and replace two 1980s buildings which currently occupy the 2 and 3 Finsbury Avenue Square site. Sitting next to Make’s headquarters for UBS at 5 Broadgate, the proposed building would feature a 20-storey west tower and 37-storey east tower, connected by a 12-storey podium. It would provide 85,000 sq m of office space, as well as a further 15,000 sq m of retail, storage and bar space.
Bisnow reports that a trio of leading developers are on the shortlist to buy a site in Shoreditch in the borough of Hackney that had been touted as a potential new HQ for the London Stock Exchange Group in 2019. Helical, Canary Wharf Group and Tishman Speyer are the parties left in the running to buy the site on Earl Street, just beyond the north west border of the City. The site has the potential for a 450,000 sq ft scheme. London Stock Exchange owns a 78,000 sq ft building on the site, and in 2019 appointed architect MAKE to come up with plans for a major redevelopment, which led to speculation that it could move its headquarters there. If Canary Wharf were to buy the site, it would be only the third time it has developed a scheme outside its Docklands home, and its first new scheme outside of Docklands for more than five years.
Hammersmith & Fulham
The BBC reports Hammersmith Bridge was illuminated red on Valentines Day in protest at delays to its repairs. The 133-year-old Hammersmith Bridge was shut to all traffic in August last year when cracks in the structure worsened during a heat wave. Organisers of the stunt said they created the “Valentine’s Day card” to “draw attention” to the issue. As well as turning the structure red, a message reading “Broken Hearts. Broken Promises. Broken Lives. Broken Bridge.” was projected onto the suspension towers. Organisers said it was directed at Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, and Hammersmith and Fulham Council leader Stephen Cowan.
Kensington & Chelsea
South London Press reports that there are hundreds of properties in Kensington and Chelsea that have sat empty and unlived-in for years, according to council data. More than 70 homes in the borough – the wealthiest and smallest in London – have stood empty for more than 10 years. Another 281 homes have been vacant since January 2016, while 668 have been empty since the start of 2019. The figures, released after a Freedom of Information request, also show that Kensington and Chelsea has a much worse problem than its neighbouring boroughs, Westminster and Hammersmith and Fulham. Kensington and Chelsea Council have responded to the release of this information saying that the housing crisis is a London-wide issue, and that it has ongoing plans to build 300 new social housing units.
Property Week reports that Mitsubishi Architects and CO-RE have revealed their plans for the redevelopment of the former ITV studios on London’s South Bank. The design by Make Architects for the scheme comprises a 26-storey office building which is connected to two further buildings of 13 and six storeys.As well as the 900,000 sq ft of office space the scheme would provide, the designs include new cafes and restaurants as well as cultural venues and green spaces.
South London Press reports that Southwark cabinet minister for housing Leo Pollak has quit after it emerged he had not been transparent about a Twitter account that he managed, which criticised local community groups. He apologised to leader Cllr Kieron Williams for “a serious error of judgement that doesn’t meet the standards of openness and accountability that you would expect of a public representative. His account under the name of account under the name @SouthwarkYIMBY which promoted house building and council projects in the borough also criticised residents’ campaigns – without revealing who was making the comments. The @SouthwarkYIMBY Twitter account has now been deleted
Estates Gazette reports that London Square and Moda Living have joined forces to buy the final sites at Royal Mail’s Nine Elms Parkside. A deal would see the first central London scheme from build-to-rent giant Moda Living, following expansion in the regions in partnership with Apache Capital. It would also be the first BTR acquisition for London Square, which has sought to diversify its business with an affordable housing arm, partnerships and block sales to BTR funds.
Property Week reports that Westminster City Council has revealed a £150m plan for the recovery of the West End. The Oxford Street District (OSD) framework will focus on investment in Oxford Circus & Bond Street, Marble Arch and East Oxford Street. Proposals include Marble Arch Hill, a temporary tourist attraction to bring visitors back to the area, and interim projects on Oxford Street such as additional pedestrian space and pop up parks. The framework also outlines its aim to support small and medium-sized businesses through reusing and reimagining existing buildings. Westminster City Council Leader Rachael Robathan said: “This ambitious and comprehensive framework is the blueprint for how we will work with our partners to reinvent successfully the Oxford Street District for decades to come.”
Bdaily reports that a housebuilder is set to start work on a multi-million pound construction project to create 92 new homes in Westminster. Galliard Homes will begin construction of the residential-led mixed-use scheme at TCRW SOHO in Oxford Street after acquiring the site from TfL. The two year project will deliver 92 apartments across 74,675 sq ft, as well as 9,939 sq ft of ground floor retail space situated above the new western entrance to the Elizabeth line at Tottenham Court Road. Designed by architectural practice Hawkins\Brown, TCRW Soho will comprise two new buildings – one Art Deco in style providing 69 apartments and a 7,989 sq ft retail unit, and the other Georgian-inspired in style, providing 23 apartments and 1,950 sq ft of new retail accommodation and kiosks. The development is scheduled to be completed in Summer 2023.
The Telegraph reports that Brian Bickell, the chief executive of West End property company Shaftesbury, said overseas visitors may not return in numbers before “late2022, perhaps not until into 2023, being realistic”. Shaftesbury’s warning comes as a tough new hotel quarantine regime is imposed on visitors from 33 high-risk countries, creating a further barrier to a recovery in tourism and a revival of the capital’s retail and cultural districts. The £2.1bn firm has 850 tenants across popular tourist districts including Chinatown and Carnaby Street. Mr Bickell warned that a targeted extension of support for businesses beyond the end of March was needed.
Property Week reports that Simon Carter is to open a new flagship store at 20 Connaught Street, central London. The new store is split across two floors totalling 1,049 sq ft and is the fifth site of the luxury menswear brand to open in London, alongside stores in Mayfair, Blackheath, Crystal Palace and Chiswick. The site is owned by the Church Commissioners, which administers the property owned by the Church of England.
Construction Enquirer reports that London developer Avanton has set up a £500m fund for strategic land acquisitions over the next three years, as part of a major expansion into the capital’s build to rent sector. The new land fund will target the acquisition of sites across Inner London in locations such as Islington, Southwark, Wandsworth, Wimbledon, Hammersmith, Lambeth, Camden and Brent with a view to delivering up to 5,000 build-to-rent units between 2021 and 2023. Avanton will focus on acquiring sites with land values of £20m to £100m, providing for between 300 to 1,000 units per BTR development. The firm has already begun to assemble a portfolio of build-to-rent pipeline projects.
The Times reports that Ministers are drawing up plans to extend protections for commercial property tenants in another hammer blow to landlords suffering huge shortfalls in rent. The business department and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) have been talking to the property, retail and hospitality sectors over how best to extend the moratorium on landlords’ ability to evict tenants over unpaid rent. That policy has helped rent arrears swell to an estimated £4.5 billion. To try and defuse this time bomb, the government may also introduce guidance on how landlords and their tenants should determine how bills are split.