By Angela Lovely
Derwent London are trying very hard to make friends with people. Over the space of a few months they’ve gone from looking like the bad guys to trying to appear to be the good guys.
They had gained planning permission from Mayor Boris Johnson to demolish and redevelop the Saatchi Block on Charlotte Street, overturning the decision of Camden Council who refused planning permission for a scheme that fell short on affordable housing and public open space and drew anger from local residents.
The Saatchi block redevelopment meant that Saatchi & Saatchi had to go elsewhere, and it also meant Make Architects would be made homeless from their studios in Whitfield Street. Although the latter only had themselves to blame because they are the architects for the Saatchi Block revamp.
Now I hear that Make Architects have been found a home in one of Arup’s buildings at nearby Fitzroy Street. Derwent still have the freehold of Arup’s 8 Fitzroy Street, while Arup gained the freehold of the “bug” building at 13 Fitzroy Street from Derwent some years ago.
And last week, Derwent London announced it was offering £250,000 of grants, an army of volunteers, and free activity space to community groups in Fitzrovia. Although it’s not quite as generous as they are making it out to be.
Then to cap it all, it was revealed on Wednesday that Derwent will now rehouse Saatchi & Saatchi at two brand new buildings in Clerkenwell and Holborn. So say Property Week who reported:
Derwent London has pulled off a complex transaction in which an existing tenant, Saatchi & Saatchi, is expected to move to a pair of forthcoming Derwent London schemes in London’s Midtown, delaying the redevelopment of Saatchi’s existing headquarters.
PropertyWeek.com understands that Saatchi, which has been searching the London market for relocation options for the past two years, is taking a 60,000 sq ft prelet at Derwent’s Turnmills scheme and more than 100,000 sq ft of space at Derwent’s 40 Chancery Lane.
Property Week has not said whether all the media organisations, including Media Vest, at the rear of the Saatchi block in Whitfield Street will be rehoused, or whether the staff at Saatchi & Saatchi actually want to be leaving Fitzrovia and scattered between Holborn and Clerkenwell.
Neither Derwent nor Saatchis were prepared to comment to Property Week. They don’t tell us anything, either.
Still there’s the thorny issue of the demolition of the health clinic at the Margaret Pyke Centre, also on Charlotte Street. Where are they going to go? And the redevelopment of the retail units at Central Cross on Tottenham Court Road. Where are those occupants going? And the affordable housing they are putting at Whitfield Place that could conflict with the football court at The Warren playground. How are they going to solve that? Or are they?
Then there’s that pesky business improvement district they imposed on us by stealth. Although that lot seem to have gone very quiet recently.
It’s in Derwent London’s nature to knock down buildings. At some point they’ll want to do it again and before long it’s likely to be The Network Building on Tottenham Court Road. And where will the companies in that building be going?