The redevelopment of what was the St Alphage site is one of the largest fringe developments affecting Barbican residents at this time, particularly those in the south-eastern quarter of the estate.
Redevelopment of the St Alphage site, a 1.8 acre low-density commercial site owned by the City of London to the south of the Barbican estate, had been proposed at various times the late 1990s. Full planning permission for the redevelopment of the St Alphage House site was eventually granted by the City of London’s planning committee on 27 June 2011, to an application made by Hammerson plc, in a joint venture between Hammerson and the City of London’s property arm. The development, marketed as London Wall Place, will see the demolition of the existing St Alphage office tower and the extensive Podium structure that flanks London Wall, and the replacement of approximately 160,000 square feet of office accommodation with two office buildings, one of around 300,000 and the other around 200,000 square feet, together with the creation of a new urban park running across the middle of the site, which will integrate the existing Salters Gardens and Roman and Medieval London Wall remains with the ruined tower of the ancient St Alphage Priory. The BA ran a spirited campaign of objection to the proposals in 2010-11 on the grounds that they were a significant overdevelopment of the site, and would cause nuisance to residents from loss of light, loss of privacy, increased traffic and noise from deliveries.
Though the BA was not successful in persuading the planning committee of these arguments, nevertheless, important concessions were made by the developer to Barbican residents in the scheme that went before planning. These include: reconstruction and reconnection of both north-south and east-west highwalks across the site, so that the Barbican Estate remains linked from its Podium level to the Guildhall and other destinations around and across London Wall; large enclosed loading bays in which service vehicles can turn without requiring any reversing beeps, traffic routing of servicing traffic that takes traffic away from the bulk of the Estate, revised massing of the building so that the elements closest to Andrewes and Willoughby House are stepped back, and several other minor design improvements.
Change of ownership
In July 2012, one year after planning permission was granted, Hammerson announced it no longer wished to pursue its option to develop the site, and the City sold the entire development interest to a new 50/50 joint venture between Brookfield Office Properties and Oxford Properties – acting together as the London Wall Place Partnership.
LWPP intends to build it and manage it as landlords and office management company, which the BA considers beneficial, as it means the developer has a long-term interest in being on good terms with its neighbours. This has been demonstrated already in an more open relationship that LWPP has established with the BA’s working party, and a willingness to listen to and accommodate residents’ concerns.
LWPP has also taken over the Hammerson plans, and has retained the same architects, Make. It has made made two rounds of changes to the scheme, both of which it consulted with the BA over, and made several positive changes from a residents’ point of view. These include moving the delivery entrance on Fore Street further away from residents, and reorienting the western building, adjacent to the Postern and Wallside, so it only has one entrance, on London Wall, and the second entrance is scaled back for staff only and to provide disabled access. At the same time, the vehicle drop-off has been reduced and simplified, so the entrance should generate much less traffic – most of it on foot.
Work commences and a pre-let announced
In October 2013, the Highwalks were closed, and demolition on the site commenced. Later in the same month, it was announced that a pre-let had been secured on the larger, eastern building and the new occupier would be the global investment and wealth management company, Schroders. Schroders occupies several sites within the square mile and will consolidate all of its operations on the one site. In addition, Schroders have subsequently taken out letting options on several floors in the western building too.
Current state of play
Now that work has commenced on the site, we have created an online folder of the current documents, comprising correspondence between the developer and the BA, meeting notes and an archive of newsletters issued by the developer, and we will continue to update this as more documents become available.
Access online documents here
Chair, Barbican Association St Alphage Group