I went along to another NLA event last Thursday called 'Investing in Southwark' held within the Tate Modern. The morning's talks were chaired by EG's old editor and fellow blogger Peter Bill with the afternoon given over to guided study tours of either London Bridge and Bankside, Elephant and Castle or Canada Water and Bermondsey Spa. I did the Elephant tour where we were shown around the recently completed Printworks on Amelia Street as well as the Strata building by the respective developers and architects. I'll do a separate post on those with this one just concentrating on what the main speakers had to say.
Those speaking included:
Cllr Peter John, The leader of Southwark Council
Richard Rawes, Director of Regeneration at Southwark Council
James Sellar, CEO of Sellar
Julian Hind, Head of leasing, sales and development at Farebrother
Heather Juman, Area Manager, South East at the HCA
Rupert Robinson, Head of Regeneration at KPMG
Mark Boyes, Project Director for Elephant and Castle at Lend Lease
Alex Williams, Director of Borough Partnersips at TfL
Nigel Webb, Head of Developments at British Land
Graham Morrison, Partner at Allies and Morrison
Cllr Fiona Colley, Cabinet Member for Regeneration at Southwark Council
Peter John, the recently elected leader of Southwark council started proceedings with his opening speech towards the largely developer and agent based audience as a 'come and invest' plea. Not that Southwark really needs it, over the last 10 years it's probably been one of the best performing London boroughs and has seen dramatic changes in recent history which have really revived it. The Tate Modern, globe theatre and jubilee line extension stick out.
Very interestingly the Southwark leader stated he 'unashamedly loves tall buildings' and his favourite place to visit was New York. They can be 'beautiful and practical' he went on to say and looks forward to working with Sellar for more tall buildings along St Thomas Street. To paraphrase Peter John "if you come to me with an iconic tall building in the right location you will have my support; Southwark is open for business and looking forward to change".
Richard Rawes the director of regeneration and neighbourhoods at Southwark council then discussed the challenges at the local level in more detail. The borough is the 26th most deprived borough in the country meaning it falls within the lowest 10%. It also has the largest council housing stock in London making it the 4th largest social landlord in the entire UK, so in terms of housing stock it has a lot to do.
He then went on to state what the council's targets are up to 2026.
- 10% in homes (an extra 24,000)
- 30% increase in office space (an extra 500,000sqm)
- 15% increase in jobs (an extra 32,000)
- 80,000sqm increase in shopping and leisure space.
James Sellar also spoke, the CEO of Sellar who are developing the Shard. He didn't give too much away on the Three Houses plans along St Thomas Street though, only stating it will now probably be next year until we finally see any plans submitted. Most of his spiel was concentrated on the conception and development of the Shard, stating he expects up to 1million visitors a year to pass through the viewing gallery. There will also be 6 restaurants within the multi-use building in up to 5,761sqm of space and maybe up to 20 different office occupiers. As well as that the Shangri-la hotel is set to become their European flagship.
Rupert Robinson from KPMG possibly brought the most interesting news to developers in the room with a short analysis on the sovereign wealth funds that are looking to invest in London real estate. As well as being mentioned in Saturday's Estates Gazette (page 68-71), top of Rupert's list of ones to watch out for is Norwegian pension fund 'Norges Bank Investment Management' (NBIM). Described in EG as the 'newest kid on the block' they have value of assets of $479bn and a reported $20bn which they are actively looking to invest in real estate; London, as Rupert said should hopefully be benefitting from this soon.
Another fascinating topic of conversation was between Alex Williams of TfL, Mark Boyes of Lend Lease and those representing the council. The argument centred around the £200m cost of renovating Elephant and Castle tube station with the foresight of the extra capacity generated from the redevelopment of the area in years to come. It already operates at 5 people per sq metre at peak times according to TfL, due to no escalator at the station. With absolutely no money in TfL's budget and neither side backing down and being able to afford to pay for it, Cllr Fiona Colley stated the only way was to find some ingenious engineering to reduce the £200m cost. Even Peter Bill did his best to get either side dishing the dirt on each other with Alex Williams of TfL saying "I don't think you will be getting me to start any negotiations in front of an audience of 200 property professionals". All were obviously extremely professional and wouldn't give much away, with this argument seeming as though it will run and run.