A development site of 2.3 acres is a rare commodity in the West End but we knew it offered an excellent opportunity to deliver a first class mixed use scheme in this improving part of the West End. Following the appointment of Make Architects, the design took shape for 419,000 sq ft of office, residential and retail space, an increase of 45,000 sq ft over the vendor’s proposals.
Previous ‘dead’ frontage along Newman Street and Rathbone Place will be replaced with retail units and the scheme will also provide 20 affordable housing units on-site in an area of the West End which is short of this type of accommodation.
Planning ability to gain the best possible consent
To achieve the best possible planning consent, we held a series of meetings with Westminster City Council to establish planning policy for the site, resulting in us achieving their objective for a mixed use scheme with high quality public realm.
With the uses divided between offices (58%) residential (36%) and retail (6%) our high quality design will provide new pedestrian connectivity between Rathbone Place and Newman Street via a landscaped public square, filled with mature planting, lawns, trees and water features.
A combination of the right natural materials and massing refinements ensures the development blends into the streetscape and ensures the public space enjoys good levels of sunlight.
Working closely with third parties on what is a difficult site
A development of the scale proposed would inevitably impact on the surrounding buildings and this position was heightened as part of the site has been a car park for 50 years. We met the owners of neighbouring buildings at an early stage to explain our proposals and where appropriate make adjustments. We also negotiated over 90 separate neighbourly agreements in time to meet the building programme.
Exemplary execution of sales and leasing campaigns
Our residential sales campaigns focusing on the combination of the quality of our apartments, the adjacency to a new garden square and its central West End location, enabled us to forward sell the majority of the units early in the construction phase.
By taking a pragmatic approach to the deal structure, we were also able to pre-let the entirety of the 242,800 sq ft of office space to Facebook. Early engagement between our professional and technical teams has allowed Facebook to influence the design of their space.
The success of both of these activities has enabled us to significantly de-risk our largest development to date.
Ken Shuttleworth Founding Partner, Make Architects
The successful residential sales campaign reflects the high quality residential accommodation that GPE is creating. The seamless transition from exterior to interior, the appeal of the apartments and the attractive new garden square will deliver a first rate development in a premier West End location.