London's major commercial schemes back on track

16 April 2010

More than £4bn of large developments in London have come back online in recent months,  according to research by Building. The news coincides with this week's topping out of the £242m Heron Tower, currently the tallest building in London.

Construction data provider Barbour ABI revealed that the top 30 schemes over £50m that have restarted in London are collectively worth £4.2bn.

The list includes Enderby’s Wharf, a £350m mixed-use scheme in Greenwich, a £700m mixed-use development in Croydon, and Project Chrysalis, the £100m redevelopment of New Covent Garden Market in Vauxhall.

It also includes a number of high-profile projects rumoured to be starting on site this year such as Land Securities’ Bressenden Place and Selborne House schemes.

Meanwhile, Construction News reported that Arab Investments has secured funding for the next phase of the £550m Pinnacle Tower in the City of London.

The developer’s managing director Khalid Affara told Construction News that he was now talking to clients about filling the 63-storey, 290m high building.

“We have enough banks prepared to give us the finance. Now we are going out and trying to get the prelets. There are a lot of people out there realising that their leases are running out in 2013  and 2014. Every week there is a new requirement for another 100 000 sq ft. They are coming to us and saying ‘please come and give us a presentation’,” he said.

However, the Barbour ABI data also shows that £4.3bn of London projects in the £50 million-plus bracket were still on hold over the past 12 months.

Nicholas Thompson, chief executive of commercial architect Aukett Fitzroy Robinson, said that while a figure of £4bn was encouraging, it was not enough to avoid a “static” 2010.

He said: “A lot of activity in the £50m-plus bracket will be the result of the rights issues that the larger developers carried out this year. A lot of projects under £50m will be funded by bank debt and third-party financing and may not come back online so quickly.”

Steve McGuckin, managing director of Turner & Townsend UK, said the perceived revival should be treated with “cautious optimism” rather than lead to the assumption that a “blanket recovery” was underway.

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