Property Week reports that Oxford Properties Group and Pioneer Group have launched plans to convert Victoria House in Bloomsbury Square, London, into a life sciences hub. The project has secured full planning approval and Oxford and Pioneer have also announced that Victoria House will be the new home of the BioIndustry Association (BIA), the trade association for UK life sciences.
City of London
Property Week reports that Dominus Real Estate has snapped up the RBS office building 5-10 Great Tower Street in the Square Mile from NatWest for £27.5m with an eye on converting it for alternative use. The multi-sector developer has acquired the vacant, 55,817 sq ft building in an all-equity deal following a “highly competitive process”. Dominus said it would explore several options to modernise the ageing building, including adaptive reuse.
City of Westminster
PrimeResi reports that Lodha UK investor group, the super-prime developer behind No.1 Grosvenor Square and Holland Park Gate has been appointed as development manager at the prominent Cundy Street Quarter regeneration scheme in Belgravia. The scheme plans to provide 88 affordable homes, including social rent, framed by improved green spaces and will also introduce a community hub, food store and cinema.
The Architect’s Journal reports that reactions are pouring in to Michael Gove’s landmark decision to block Pilbrow + Partners’ plans to demolish and rebuild Marks and Spencer Oxford Street. The levelling up, housing and communities secretary today (20 July) refused the retailer permission to knock down the flagship store in central London, in a potentially precedent-setting moment for the industry.Gove blocked the contentious redevelopment proposal on the grounds of its potential heritage and carbon impacts – going against the planning inspector’s recommendations. In a fiery response to the decision, M&S chief executive Stuart Machin called Gove’s decision ‘unfathomable’, and described the suggestion that it was made on sustainability grounds as ‘nonsensical’. Read the full response here.
The Islington Gazette reports that Islington’s King’s Head pub theatre is to close after 53 years. The August 13th closure comes ahead of a the previously move into a new purpose-built theatre in Islington Square. Although contractors are on site, no date has yet been confirmed for the opening of the new venue, which will include a 200 seat auditorium and 50-seat cabaret space.
Lambeth’s Planning Committee has refused PPHE Hotel Group’s plans to build a 15-storey development at the site of 79-87 Westminster Bridge Road close to Lambeth North underground station. The scheme proposed a 186-room hotel alongside 459 sqm of office space and 579 sqm of light industrial space. Primary concerns centred on the impact on Lincoln Tower local heritage site.
Kensington & Chelsea
In Kensington and Chelsea, work has begun to build 83 new homes in North Kensington. The Barlby Road site will see the delivery of 83 new homes alongside a brand-new multi-purpose sports facility for local school pupils and the community. The development, which is part of the New Homes Delivery Programme, will offer 38 homes for social rent as well as 10 for key workers, with the remaining properties at market rent.
The Architects’ Journal reports that Southwark Council has approved Morris + Company’s plans for a major student residential building and ‘keyworker’ housing development in south London. The new blocks, on a 0.3ha site at the corner of Borough High Street and Harper Street, will include 444 student homes and eight intermediate-rent flats that can be used by NHS staff, police officers, teachers, social workers, firefighters and ambulance workers. Developer Sellar are behind the plans.
EG Radius reports that developer Native Land is searching for an operator for an LGBTQ+ cultural space at its Bankside Yards scheme in south London. The company has issued a request for proposals from operators for a 5,000 sqft space across two railway lines at the fossil-fuel free major mixed-use development.
Property Week reports that Olympian Homes has signed a £47.9m Section 106 Agreement with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (LBTH) and the Greater London Authority (GLA), which it says is the UK’s second largest to date, as part of a planning process for a 795-unit co-living scheme in Marsh Wall on the Isle of Dogs. The developer will pay the money in four equal instalments to Tower Hamlets Council, which will use it for the provision of affordable housing in the borough.
Construction Enquirer reports that Developer Olympian Homes will start site clearance in weeks on a 46 storey co-living homes tower on the Isle of Dogs in London Docklands. The developer is pressing ahead with the project after concluding a S106 deal that includes a £48m payment for Tower Hamlets Borough Council to spend on affordable housing.Once transacted, this will rank as the second largest of such contributions to have been paid in the UK.
MyLondon reports that Wandsworth Council is being urged to explain what steps it’s taken to secure the £750million needed for a new Northern Line extension, after commissioning investigations into the potential scheme. A Conservative motion at a Wandsworth Council meeting on July 19 raised concerns about transport schemes in the borough, including plans to redesign Wandsworth town centre’s one-way system. The motion accused the Labour administration, which took control of the authority for the first time in 44 years last May, of failing to “deliver high quality transport planning and infrastructure for Wandsworth residents”.
Property Week reports that Housing Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed the government’s intention to mandate second staircases in new residential developments and has lowered the threshold to buildings taller than 18m. The long-awaited fire safety measure marks a stricter threshold than the 30m rule introduced by Sadiq Khan in London in December, with Gove saying the announcement would “provide much-desired clarity”.
Property Week reports that Housebuilding giant Vistry has secured an additional £67m from Homes England to develop grant-funded affordable homes in the period up to 2026. This brings the total strategic partnership affordable housing grants funding to £150m and will enable Vistry to develop 2,388 affordable homes in partnership with registered providers and local authorities across England.
The Evening Standard reports that Rishi Sunak on Thursday “stepped in” to try to sort out London’s housing crisis blaming Sadiq Khan for sky-high property prices destroying the dreams of many Londoners to own their own home. The Prime Minister announced a review of the London Plan to identify new sites to build tens of thousands new homes in the capital. The Prime Minister also gave the Mayor of London an autumn deadline – three to four months – to agree progress towards changes to the city’s long-term masterplan or Housing Secretary Michael Gove may use powers to intervene.