A neighbourly dispute has made its way into London’s commercial property media.It concerns two towering characters going about their business in the heart of the City of London.
At 110 Bishopsgate, there is commercial property heavyweight Heron Tower. At 755 ft, it is the third highest commercial property in London, after 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf and The Shard, London Bridge. Owned by commercial property property developers Heron International, it offers over 400,000 sq ft of office floor space, a bar and a restaurant.
The SUSHISAMBA restaurant is near the top of this iconic commercial property, offering stunning views across London. It will be the highlight of the Heron Plaza, a mixed-use residential and commercial property project consisting of public spaces, apartments, restaurants and retail outlets.
Currently under construction, at 100 Bishopsgate, is another commercial property that will soon grace the London skyline. Great Portland Estates are the developers of this new commercial property arrival due to scrape the London skies at a height of 564 ft and deliver 785,000 sq ft of space. Office, retail, restaurant and public areas will surround the central tower. The lower part of this new commercial property is said to flare out on one side, which will reduce ‘the wind currents that are experienced by pedestrians by absorbing them’. This spells good news for those walking past – assuming the quote means the building will absorb the wind rather than absorb the pedestrians!
What isn’t good news, at least for Heron Tower, is the prospect of its restaurant’s views being obstructed by its new commercial property neighbour. A proposal to add two extra storeys to the commercial property at 100 Bishopsgate has been forwarded to City of London planners and the chief executive of Heron International, Gerald Ronson, has sent a letter to the planners, asking that his concerns be ‘properly reviewed and address[ed]’.
He states, ‘there is little point in creating a feature restaurant at the top of a tall building if one of the primary attractions – its view of London – is obscured at such close quarters and by such an undistinguished piece of architecture.’ The outcome of the planning meeting is set to be announced shortly.
The City of London is the setting for many new commercial property developments. Joining the two in Bishopsgate will be The Shard in London Bridge, the Cheesegrater in Leadenhall, and the Walkie-Talkie in Fenchurch St. These form a group that hopes to capitalise on the high level of commercial property leases expected to come up for renewal in the next few years – a period when many expect large investment banks such as Schroders to be seeking new commercial property premises. In a speech given earlier this year, Gerald Ronson pinpointed 2014/15 as ‘the most likely time for the sun to start shining again’ in the commercial property sector.
Overseas investment in commercial property has meant that ‘the big cloud is not in Central London and the City of London, which remain strong’ but the question he posed was ‘what will happen in the provinces?’
In these areas, he feels the commercial property industry requires ‘a large degree of luck, bravery and Alka Seltzer’ to ensure a recovery.