A weekly round up of the latest planning and property news from the central London boroughs
Camden New Journal reports that Holborn and St Pancras MP Sir Keir Starmer has been asked to speak out against developer Labtech’s plans to demolish the empty Selkirk House in Museum Street – formerly home to a Travelodge Hotel – and build a taller office block. The NCP car park and adjacent buildings in West Central Street are also part of the overall scheme, with 29 new homes planned for that part of the site. opponents say the height, expected to be at least 21 storeys, will “damage the skyline” and negatively impact the surrounding listed buildings including the British Museum and St George’s Church, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor. Mr Starmer’s office said the MP had written privately to the council enquiring about how the future application for this site will be considered and said he will be following developments closely.
City of London
Estates Gazette reports that a new consultation is underway on plans for the City of London court and complex in Fleet Street. The plans will see several buildings demolished to make way for three new buildings – an eight-storey court building, 11-storey police headquarters and a building for commercial use. The Eric Parry Architects-designed scheme has been revised since a planning application was submitted in December. The new consultation reflects the changes.
Property Week reports that Middle Eastern investor AGC Equity Partners is in early-stage talks to buy One Braham from Aldgate Developments for around £500m. The telecoms giant is set to move into the 325,000 sq ft office building by the end of this year, after selling its former headquarters at 81 Newgate Street to Orion Capital Managers for £209.55m.
The Evening Standard reports that ambitious plans to move three historic Londonfood markets to Dagenham were this week given the green light. Councillors approved The City of London of Corporation’s proposal to uproot Smithfield meat market, Billingsgate fish market and New Spitalfields fruit and flower markets to a sprawling site by Dagenham Dock. The Corporation said it is exploring plans to use the Thames to transport produce to and from the new markets. Barking and Dagenham’s planning committee also heard that £1.75million would be earmarked to create a “hub” of independent restaurants in Barking Town Centre, which will be stocked with fresh produce straight from the wholesalers.
Building Design reports that Hawkins Brown, Delvendahl Martin and Studio Weave have been chosen to work on three strategic sites close to the newly refurbished Hackney Wick Overground Station, next to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The sites are owned by the LLDC and form part of the Hackney Wick central masterplan which was granted outline planning permission in March 2019. The LLDC’s Hackney Wick sites will provide 190 new homes and 4,500sq m of commercial space, including flexible retail and community facilities.
Hammersmith & Fulham
Building Design reports that Foster & Partners’ plans for repairing Hammersmith Bridge could slash £40m from the repair bill and help the bridge reopen four years sooner than the current plan, Hammersmith & Fulham council has said. The bridge could potentially reopen for pedestrians and cyclists next summer, and motor vehicles two months later, under plans that have been presented to the council. This would be more than three years after it was closed to traffic because of safety fears. The council is still in negotiations about funding with Transport for London and the Department for Transport and so has proposed funding the repairs through a £3 road charge. This would be the first levy on crossing the Thames in London.
Property Week reports that Amazon Fresh is poised to move into the grade-II listed The Mall building in Islington, north London. The US giant is thought to taking over the ex-tram depot building on Upper Street, which was previously occupied by Sofa.com, for its third Amazon Fresh UK opening this year. The ‘contactless’ store will allow customers to shop and leave without paying a till.
Kensington & Chelsea
The Evening Standard reports that the developer behind the controversial £1bn redevelopment of the 29-storey Kensington Forum Hotel has withdrawn the application despite winning the backing of the mayor of London last year after the council refused the scheme in September 2018. The scheme by hotel investor Queensgate was “called in” by Robert Jenrick, the secretary of state, at the start of the year, with a planning inquiry scheduled for later in the spring. The company did not give a reason for the change of heart. Kensington and Chelsea planning lead Johnny Thalassites – a long-time opponent of the plans – said on social media last week that the withdrawal represented ‘a victory for Kensington’s skyline’.
City AM reports that Time Out has abandoned plans to build a food market at Waterloo due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The group had been planning to open a new market under the former Eurostar platforms at the central London train station. The project was originally scheduled to open this year but had been pushed back to 2022 due to Covid-related delays. Time Out has also been weighing up plans for a new market in Spitalfields, though it is yet to secure the necessary planning permissions.
South London Press reports that opposition councillors in Southwark are calling for a tram service in the borough after funding for the £3.1 billion Bakerloo extension was put on hold. In a motion being put to full council on March 24, the Southwark Liberal Democrats are calling on the council to look at a study on restoring a tram service in the borough, “possibly leading to a pilot before 2030.” They have highlighted the example of the Croydon Tramlink, built in six years at a cost of £200 million. They say trams also have the advantage of having a lower carbon footprint than other modes of transport as they can run on renewable electricity.
Costar reports that Canary Wharf is proposing to abandon plans to develop a 1m sq ft office tower at 1 Park Place in favour of a 60-storey 700-home BTR skyscraper. Plans also include 7,500 sq ft of alternative uses, including retail, education, leisure, cultural and or community uses. Canary Wharf won planning permission for the 1m sq ft office scheme in 2015.
Estates Gazette reports that buyers are being sought for a £100m luxury residential development in Putney. Liberty Gardens includes 82 private and 33 shared-ownership flats in up to 10 storeys and eight two-storey mews houses around a landscaped courtyard. The development also features a communal roof garden and private terrace. It incorporates over 10,000 sq ft of net office space over three floors and nearly 12,000 sq ft of retail and a café on the ground floor.
Estates Gazette reports that Build-to-rent developer MGT has teamed up with Oaktree to acquire 92 luxury flats at Battersea Power Station’s Electric Boulevard development. The 92 flats are part of the 542-home scheme which comprises two 17-storey towers and a 16-storey building. It is estimated that the purchase price was around £150m. It is the third BTR buy for MGT in the UK.
Estates Gazette reports that an office block in Millbank leased to parliament could be turned into a new scheme under proposals by its owners. Under new plans, Baola Properties wants to demolish the building to make way for a new nine-storey office block that reuses the façades of the current site. The Make Architects-designed scheme would offer 209,000 sq ft of offices with terraces on floors six to eight. Baola is aiming for a BREEAM outstanding rating for the building’s sustainability.
Property Week reports that Galliard Homes has signed a £76m deal with banks Leumi UK and NatWest to help deliver its Tottenham Court Road West residential development. This scheme is set to create 92 apartments across two blocks in Tottenham Court Road West comprising a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units and studio apartments. TCRW SOHO will be situated over the new Tottenham Court Road station, with the two blocks occupying prominent positions on Oxford Street, Fareham Street and Dean Street.
Westminster City Council confirmed that work to transform a corner of The Oxford Street District into a ‘Photography Quarter’ began this week. The scheme is the first permanent element of the council’s ambitious £150m plans to transform Oxford Street and the surrounding area to get underway. The project will see Ramillies Street, Ramillies Place, Hills Place and a small section of Great Marlborough Street transformed into a ‘Gateway to Soho’ and a cultural attraction in its own right.
Property Week reports that The government has announced that it will legislate to rule out Covid-19 related material change in circumstances (MCC) business rate appeals, prompting a wave of shock and frustration from business rate experts. Thousands of firms have been seeking temporary business rate reductions since 23 March 2020, when Britain first entered lockdown, by citing an MMC that they argue was a result of the pandemic. Ministers said that they will provide an extra £1.5bn package for businesses that have been unable to benefit from the existing £16bn business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. However, the government also said “market-wide economic changes to property values, such as from Covid-19, can only be properly considered at general rates revaluations, and we will therefore be legislating to rule out Covid-19 related MCC appeals”.
EG reports that a group of developers and investors are calling on the Mayor of London to revamp the London land fund to unlock some £1bn in investment into housing. Chaired by Liz Peace, developers working with London First and PWC are calling for action from the GLA to tap into investor demand in the capital. A revamp of the Homes for Londoners fund with co-investment from the private sector could deliver to some 20,000 homes in the capital the group says