A weekly round up of the latest planning and property news from the central London boroughs
Ham&High reports that Camden Council has launched its public consultation for the 02 Centre redevelopment. The council is encouraging the local community to help shape Landsec’s proposals for redevelopment, which could include up to 2,000 homes, a ‘linear park’ and new town square. The council has opened a public consultation until April 6 to help shape the framework against which it will judge the developer Landsec’s plans, when formally submitted. The council’s draft guidance will form part of a supplementary planning document that will be finalised later in the year following public feedback. Concerns have been raised by residents about the development as part of a separate consultation by Landsec. Worries included the demolition of the O2 Centre and its car park; the height and scale of the proposed housing blocks; and the potential loss of any local amenities.
Estates Gazette reports that One of Japan’s oldest construction giants has picked a former restaurant space at the foot of the West End’s Centre Point tower for its new European office headquarters. The European arm of Kajima, the Japanese property giant founded in 1840, moved into the 5,500 sq ft space owned by Almacantar at the beginning of the year, on a decade-long lease. In doing so, Kajima becomes the latest central London occupier to convert a former retail site into an office, having moved from its previous European base on Baker Street.
City of London
The Evening Standard reports that more than 1 million sq ft of office space has been approved in the City so far this year in a vote of confidence in the future of office working. In total the corporation has approved some 1.2 million square feet of office space, new or revamped, within new developments so far in 2021. That compares to around 2.6 million square feet for the whole of last year. The data comes in the same week that plans for a 33-storey tower on Gracechurch Street were approved, and ahead of companies hoping to later this month hear about the government’s “road map” out of lockdown. Alastair Moss, chair of the planning and transportation committee at the City of London Corporation said that the Square Mile will continue to be a “world-class destination of outstanding office developments which are fit for the future and adapt to post-pandemic trends”.
The Guardian reports that an ambitious £288m concert hall that was supposed to be “the Tate Modern of classical music” has been scrapped by the City of London Corporation, which said the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic made the plan impossible to complete. The Centre for Music was billed as being an acoustically perfect 2,000-seat concert hall for the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) and would have had restaurants, commercial space and a smaller venue for jazz performances.
Hammersmith & Fulham
South West Londoner reports that Transport for London has come under fire after announcing that the Hammersmith Bridge replacement ferry will charge passengers for crossing, despite residents’ understanding that the journey would be free. TfL confirmed there are two bids in contention to run the ferry service, both of whom will charge £1.55 per ride and children will travel free. Hammersmith Bridge was closed to traffic and pedestrians last year after cracks were found in its structure, and is set to be closed until 2027. The scheme was supposed to be in place by October half-term last year but those plans failed and the bidders, City Cruises and Uber Boat by Thames Clippers, have asked for extra time. By the summer, the ferry service should be in place from 6am to 10pm with a capacity of 800 passengers an hour.
Estates Gazette reports that Depop is looking for a new HQ in Farringdon, as the online clothing marketplace looks to expand amid a dramatic surge in business driven by the pandemic. The company is looking to move into an office that is roughly twice the size of its current Shoreditch premises. The company is reportedly looking for up to 40,000 sq ft of space. The news comes after a bumper year for the firm, whose app allows users to buy and sell clothes, going from fewer than 300 employees to more than 400 during the pandemic.
Kensington & Chelsea
South London Press reports that owners of empty or under-utilised properties in Kensington and Chelsea are being asked to bring them back into use to help tackle the borough’s housing shortage. Kensington and Chelsea council will be contacting landlords of empty homes to encourage them to offer the properties to those in need at a subsidised rate – especially key workers. One out of every 40 homes is identified as empty in a borough with the highest land values in the United Kingdom and average house prices of £1.4m. Town hall housing officers will also work with landlords to find tenants and ensure tenancies are managed properly.
The Evening Standard reports that HSBC is committed to retaining its presence in London after the pandemic. Asked if the HSBC office in Canary Wharf would retain its iconic status and be full once vaccinations are complete, Chief Executive Noel Quinn replied “The answer is very simple: yes. London is extremely important. Our job is to connect London to the rest of the world.” Staff may not be in the office five days a week and savings on office space will be made, but HSBC will retain a strong City presence, says the top boss.
South West Londoner reports that TfL is to start safety improvements on Battersea Bridge following residents’ petition. Public consultations on a proposed new pedestrian crossing at the north side of the bridge are due to begin in the coming weeks, with construction planned to start later in the year. In plans outlined by TfL, a signalised pedestrian crossing will be installed at the bridge, alongside a reduction in the speed limit on Chelsea Embankment later this year from 30mph to 20mph, improving safety for both pedestrians and cyclists.
City AM reports that West End landlord Shaftesbury said occupier interest had improved after the lockdown lifting roadmap was announced, saying the easing of restrictions will herald a “revival” of the London’s theatre and shopping district. However, the FTSE 250 developer said current restrictions were continuing to have a “significant impact on economic activity and consumer spending patterns”. All hospitality and non-essential retail businesses – which make up the majority of Shaftesbury’s tenants – have only been able to trade for seven of the past 21 weeks. This news comes after it was revealed that Shaftesbury only collected 36% of rents last month.
Westminster City Council’s al fresco scheme will be returning when restaurants, pubs and bars are expected to re-open to outdoor diners on 12 April and will remain throughout the summer months. The local authority has announced the move to support the hospitality sector during a very tough time for Westminster’s hospitality businesses. The temporary measures were first introduced when lockdown restrictions eased in July last year and were a lifeline to the local economy, bringing much needed confidence and footfall back to Westminster.