A weekly round up of the latest planning and property news from the central London boroughs
Property Week reports that Wing Tai Properties have bought Athene Place on Shoe Lane, near to Holborn. The office was renovated by Henderson Park in 2018, their CEO, Nick Weber, commented “This sale to the consortium led by Wing Tai Properties Limited underlines the ongoing appeal of prime, well let London offices to international investors and the important role we believe they will continue play in the daily working life of the future.”
City of London
Property Funds World reports that CLI-Dartdriver have acquired 63 Coleman Street and 35-39 Coleman Street and have plans to deliver more than 100,000 sq ft of office space. The site has existing planning permission for 40,000 sq ft of office space and residential, but CLI Dartdriver plan to submit a revised application and deliver the new offices by 2023.
Hammersmith & Fulham
Richmond Councillors came to blows at Budget Council over whether the borough should contribute £2 million to the repair of Hammersmith Bridge. Liberal Democrats rebuked the Conservative amendment, claiming it was the Government’s responsibility to fund the repairs and that the £2 million would make up a very small proportion of the estimated £140 million repair sots.
St Mary’s ward councillors have written to the Islington Tribune attacking local Green councillor and London Assembly Caroline Russell for joining protests against the felling of several trees at Dixon Clark Court, the site of one of the Council’s small sites developments.
Kensington & Chelsea
Inside Housing reports that the leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has apologised for putting “the narrow goal of generating commercial income” above serving the community in relation to a string of property deals in the years leading up to the Grenfell Tower fire. The council has published an independent review of deals that saw public assets in the deprived north of the borough sold or leased to private schools. The deals – which affected a library, an adult education college and a community centre incorporating a Citizen’s Advice branch – caused consternation in the community at the time, with the now well known ‘Grenfell Action Group’ blog criticising the council’s actions.
Property Week reports that the Mayor of London has written to Lambeth Council saying the Hondo Brixton office tower scheme “warrants” his close scrutiny and the proposed development would have “significant” effects on more than one London borough. In the letter, he said the office-led plans were “of such a nature and scale that would have a significant impact on the implementation of the spatial development strategy”. He added that the mixed-use scheme would be “contrary” to the London Plan’s policy on tall buildings. Khan will now look at the plans afresh and a representation hearing will be held in the future. A date has not yet been set. The scheme was approved by Lambeth Council’s planning committee last November despite numerous objections. A month later, the mayor allowed the planning consent to go ahead.
Architects Journal reports that Southwark Council have selected a team led by Morris+Company to transform the Currys PC World site in Old Kent Road. The scheme – part of the council’s ambitious programme to build 11,000 new council homes across the borough by 2042 – will deliver about 500 new homes, half of which will be for social rent, together with 5,000 sq m of new commercial space. The land currently occupied by Currys PC World was bought by Southwark Council in 2019. The project aims to be net carbon neutral to support the council’s climate emergency commitments. Public consultation on the Currys PC World scheme will begin next year (2022) and the first new homes could be delivered in 2024.
Estates Gazette reports that Canary Wharf expects ‘significant numbers’ of office workers by summer. Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Howard Dawber, head of strategy at the Canary Wharf Group, said the group expects workers to start returning from the end of this month, with the mass numbers set to return over the summer. According to Dawber, Canary Wharf Group, whose districted accommodated 120,000 office workers before the pandemic, is planning for an eventual return to 100% occupancy.
Wandsworth Times reports that Wandsworth Council has approved a new private hospital treating obesity problems, despite concerns it will not help local people and will only be used by the super wealthy. The planning committee approved the application by The Smart Clinics to convert offices on Lombard Road by the riverfront in Battersea into a new hospital last week. In their application, it was argued their clinic – which also provides complementary cosmetic surgery – would relieve pressure on the NHS, particularly as obesity increases the risk of a number of other health issues. The borough’s public health lead, in his report on the application, was sceptical of how much use the facility would be in the borough, given that levels of adult obesity in Wandsworth are below London and England averages and most cases of obese adults are those living in poorer neighbourhoods and estates. These concerns were echoed by Labour councillors Annamarie Critchard and Tony Belton.
Property Week reports that Branding agency MSQ Partners has signed a 10-year lease on a new 20,315 sq ft office at 34 Bow Street, directly opposite the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in London’s West End.BT occupies the remainder of the building as a data centre with its own separate access point. The move comes after MSQ completed the acquisition of Be Heard Partnership and its digital and media agencies MMT Digital, Freemavens and Agenda21 in September 2020. MSQ and Be Heard will vacate their offices in Fitzrovia and Soho to combine under one roof at 34 Bow Street.
The Times reports that the Reuben brothers have agreed buy Armani’s Bond Street flagship store as the West End property market begins to pick up again. David and Simon Reuben are understood to have struck a deal to buy the store from Aberdeen Standard for £95.5 million, a yield of 3 per cent. Aberdeen Standard was advised by CBRE. Burberry’s store, which sits inside the Westbury hotel and is owned by Cola Holdings, is another luxury retail store to recently hit the market. JLL has been appointed to sell the store, which has an asking price of around £290m.
Property Week reports that Qatari Diar has unveiled the first images of its grade II-listed luxury hotel at 30 Grosvenor Square in Mayfair, The Chancery Rosewood. The building, which Qatari Diar bought from the US state department in 2009, will become a hotel including dining and entertainment spaces, a Rosewood Spa and wellbeing facility, five flagship retail spaces and a 1,000-capacity ballroom. Multiplex has been appointed as contractor and construction is due to begin this year. Qatari Diar, which is owned by the Qatari royal family, is hoping the hotel will be the first in the UK to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ sustainability rating.
The Guardian reports that some of Britain’s most distinguished learned societies say they may be forced to leave their central London premises because the government has imposed rent rises of more than 3,000% over the past few years. Last week the Geological Society and the Linnean Society announced that they had united with the Society of Antiquaries in a campaign to try to stop the government pricing them out of their premises at Burlington House, on Piccadilly, where they have been since 1854. According to the President of the Linnean Society, their annual rent was £4,000 in 2012 and by last year it had risen to £130,000. The Linnean Society is the world’s oldest society devoted to natural history. Its building was the setting, in 1858, for the first reading of papers by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace that outlined the theory of evolution by natural selection.
The Mayor confirmed this week that the London Plan 2021 has been formally published. The Plan is part of the statutory development plan for London, meaning that the policies in the Plan will inform decisions on planning applications across the capital. Regarding the Plan, the Mayor stated that ‘As we work to recover from COVID-19, we must also lay the foundations that will help us address the issues Londoners face, from the housing crisis to the climate emergency.’