UK property developer Canary Wharf Group Plc and Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co, the property investment arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, have announced plans to the ‘Braeburn Estates’ project, consisting of offices, up to 790 homes and a number of shops at the Shell Centre site on London’s South Bank, capitalising on surging prices and rising rents in the UK capital, Bloomberg reported on 13 December 2012.
£1bn London Project to “Enhance an Area in Need of Renaissance”
Canary Wharf, which controls the financial district of the same name, and Qatari Diar will spend more than £1 billion including the cost of the land between Waterloo Station and Hungerford Bridge purchased last year, to redevelop the area on the south bank of the River Thames. Under the revealed plan, the Shell Centre Tower will remain, with its main occupier, oil company Royal Dutch Shell, taking a further 245,000 sq ft of space, while eight new buildings will be developed. Canary Wharf’s managing director of development, John Pagano, said in an interview for Bloomberg today that six of the planned new buildings, including a 37-story tower, will be residential properties.
In total, approximately 800,000 sq ft of office space, along with around 80,000 sq ft of new retail units, restaurants and cafés, and 800,000 sq ft of residential space incorporating up to 790 new homes is planned by the joint venture. To reduce the carbon footprint of the site, the proposals also include an energy centre. If the plans are approved, walkways connecting Waterloo Station with the South Bank will also be built at the project. Planning permission is likely to be sought from the borough of Lambeth next week, while the project’s completion is scheduled in 2019.
Canary Wharf’s chairman and chief executive Sir George Iacobescu said: “It is a privilege to have the opportunity to work on such a historically interesting and important site as the Shell Centre.” Qatari Diar’s chief executive Mohammed bin Ali Al Hedfa, also commented on the unveiled development project: “Our aim is to enhance an area in need of a renaissance. We are confident that our proposed development will put a reinvigorated South Bank at its rightful place at the capital’s heart.”
Investors to Benefit from London’s Reviving Property Market
According to some analysts, Canary Wharf and Qatari Diar are set to receive a significant return on their investment in the Shell Centre site on London’s South Bank as the UK capital’s property market is showing signs of defying the economic gloom.
According to British tenant reference checking and rentals-insurance company, HomeLet, there has been a 24 per cent increase in London home prices since May 2009, when the housing market was hit by the global financial crisis and property prices in the UK capital reached an all-time low. The recent rise was partly fuelled by foreign investors buying property to protect their wealth from volatile markets elsewhere in the world. Home-rental rates in London have also risen significantly in the past year, with a 6 per cent increase, which brings rents to a record high, HomeLet figures show.