PRESIDENT'S AWARD

This special Award is presented for an outstanding contribution to the property industry. This might be a project, company or individual, or perhaps a combination of all three.


 The Crown Estate

       

 

           

The Crown Estate was established around the time of the Norman conquest, so when last year its Chief Executive, Alison Nimmo, said: “We are in the most significant period of redevelopment in our history” then that really does signify quite something. This “significant period” sees it in the midst of a £1bn redevelopment programme around London's Regent Street and a £500m programme in nearby St James's.

The pinnacle of this massive development programme is St James's Market: This prime, but immensely underexploited area running back from Piccadilly Circus tube -  a warren of dead ends, back doors and taxi short cuts - will be a new destination for London. In partnership with Oxford Properties, more than 250,000 sq ft of offices, shops and restaurants will be built to provide homes for global business, world-class dining and flagship retail in a sustainable and dynamic environment for workers, visitors and residents. 

In a rather large nut shell, St James's Market is the embodiment of the values, ethos, ability and working practices of the Crown Estate: It is sustainable; forward thinking; it is being undertaken within a creative and harmonious partnership; it will restore old buildings and develop new ones; it considers the minutiae of each aspect of development; it fits perfectly within the existing surroundings and it will set a benchmark for the other estates and landlords as to how to evolve a property portfolio.

This landmark £400 million redevelopment will not just provide a series of buildings, it will create a whole new 'place' which interlinks seamlessly with the rest of the Estate and stimulates growth and provides benefits far beyond its physical boundaries.

It also demonstrates how far the owner of an £11bn property portfolio has progressed over the past decade or so. The Crown Estate operates within a restrictive covenant which prevents it from borrowing or leveraging. Traditionally this meant it was happy to sell development leases, thus losing any control over the outcome. Around the turn of the of the millennium, the manager of the UK's sea beds, underwent something of a sea change with regards to its London holdings and took on the role of master planner.

This new outlook saw the Estate established by Edward the Confessor take a longer term, holistic attitude to its development responsibilities. The portfolio was no longer viewed piecemeal but as an entirety. And rather than sell off its responsibility, it embraced its necessary partners and worked with them to achieve its desired outcome.

It became a direct enabler and driver of best practice development projects: In 2010 its masterplan 'Regent Street Vision' was awarded the Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Planning. Then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Schemes like this protect the beating pulse of the capital.”

The evolution of policy first came to tangible fruition with the Air Street redevelopment which showed the Crown's ability and intentions. Working alongside Stanhope, the joint venture transformed a nondescript area on the southern edge of SoHo, into a prime location. It worked on each element of the project – the street scape; the offices; the shops and the leisure – to enhance and improve the overall offer and attraction. The quality of the workspace attracted business that would traditionally have been associated with the Crown's St James' portfolio. 

Based around a four building 'Quadrant' surrounding new public space, the overall scheme and the individual projects were justly lauded. Over 2012 and 2013 AirW1, or Quadrant 3 as it is also known, a mixed use building with more than 200,000 sq ft of office space, received awards from RIBA, BCIA, New London, Building Magazine and Estates Gazette. The BCO judges at the time “applauded” the mixed use building and it was nominated for an Innovation Award. At the time they said: “AirW1 is a unique development in the West End. It is a fantastic achievement.” 

This success was replicated in the other half of the Crown's London Estate, St James. The benchmark for the £500m programme was established at One Eagle Place, which won awards from the RICS and World Architecture, and was the winner of the 2014 BCO Commercial Award. The BCO judges said the 60,000 sq ft mixed use building was: “An

exemplary redevelopment, which combines the old and the new with nothing less than total success.”  The development also received praise for how the Crown had worked with its partners – Stanhope again and HOOPP – and for its transformation of an unloved area into an integral part of the urban street scape.

As its accomplishments continue to grow so does its confidence, and the Crown team is spurred on to continue to enhance and evolve the Estate. In 2015 this success was replicated back at the Regent Street Estate with 10 New Burlington Street receiving a whole host of awards. 

Despite, or maybe thanks to, the fiscal restrictions, The Crown Estate does as well as any other private developer: It has outperformed the IPD criteria for the past few years; it continues to create great places to work in for all sorts of occupiers – from start-ups to global institutions – and to enhance the environment for the public as a whole. 

It will also continue to lead the way and set the benchmark to the other estates and landlords. It is fair to say that others have looked and learnt and as such we have all benefited and that is why they are a worthy winner of the 2016 BCO President's Award.   

Congratulations to The Crown Estate