Expect a whopper planning application soon-ish from Make Architects for the second phase of The Crown Estate’s St James’s Market, which sits on the stretch of Regent Street below Piccadilly. 

Peter Bill

Delicate negotiations with those who wish to preserve the listed Curzon cinema are almost settled. The adjacent £450m first phase is finished and looking dandy. Phase two is at least as big.

Meanwhile, news of another commission for Make boss Ken Shuttleworth. The Mercers’ Company has hired the architect to develop 90,000 sq ft of retail and offices in Covent Garden, opposite the tube station. M&S confirmed last year it was leaving the lower floors of the four-storey, 1950s block at 107-115 Long Acre. Mercers’ property director, Simon Taylor, says Make is sketching out ideas for a five-storey block. “We’ve got to get the consultations right. The plans should be ready by the summer.”

How come Make is so popular? Ken Shuttleworth is up there with Hugh Seaborn (see below) in the ‘nicest person’ category. But those who really want to see what makes Make popular should stroll up London Wall in the City.

The Make blocks for Brookfield looked overpowering during construction. The deeply cantilevered upper floors hang close to the edge of the carriageway. This month, the hoardings came down to reveal a 150-yard-long, powerfully lit, 20ft-high space of glass, plants and pavements below. Make has made part of London Wall habitable as well as profitable.

China: stay? Or go before lid blows

CBRE, JLL, C&W and Savills are presumably taking stock of their activities in China. The quartet has 80 offices and who knows how many staff in cities across the land of 1.4 billion folk ruled by the Communist Party since 1949. Last Sunday, that dictatorship stopped being a revolving door and became stuck in the hands of now dictator for life, 64-year-old Xi Jinping.

China is stuck with him until the lid blows. One Beijing source told the FT last week of “an almost palpable fear among urban intellectuals and professionals that China is on the cusp of a political regression from which it might not recover”.

A few years ago, I asked Knight Frank senior partner Alistair Elliott why he was not putting Savills-level effort into China. He answered: “We like India a bit more; it’s a democracy, isn’t it?”

Pie in the Skyport, or landing fees all round?

Is another income stream about to spring from the top of higher-rise buildings? About 20 years ago, landlords began to enjoy rents from mobile phone masts. Will drone landing pads provide more than a modest trickle? At least one drone company is displaying such a vision to London landlords. Said firm wants at least 25 landing sites on top of towers. Not for tea-tray-sized drones either, but for big ones, more mini-helicopter sized.


Source: Shutterstock/flexey

Is another income stream about to spring from the top of higher-rise buildings?

The name mentioned was Skyport. One landlord mentioned was British Land. A pad on one of BL’s Paddington towers was mentioned, but BL says it hasn’t spoken to anyone. There is a Skyport International, a drone company in India, but it isn’t responding. Neither is another in the US with the same name.

There is a temptation to say Dronies have been watching too many sci-fi films. But this week Google and Amazon announced an intention to set up a privately funded air traffic control system for cities, with a slow lane for local traffic below 200ft and a fast lane for long-distance drones between 200ft and 400ft. The blighters have to land somewhere…

Cor! Earl recalls partially dressed au pair girls

Up the spiral staircase and into the Cadogan offices, just off Sloane Square one evening last week, to celebrate 300 years of the £6bn Chelsea estate with boss Hugh Seaborn – a man on anyone’s shortlist for ‘the nicest person in property’ award. We briefly reminisce on the biennial bash the 8th Earl used to hold at the Carlton Tower hotel. Charles Gerald John Cadogan turns 81 next week and was not at the party. I admit to attending Lord Cadogan’s far larger bashes with less benign intent: to publish his gloriously un-PC remarks. The Guardian would have a front-page fit today if the aristo had disparaged the largely foreign hotel waitresses in the way he did at one party.

The staff serving Taittinger last week were largely the flower of English youth. Hugh Seaborn made a gracious speech, telling all they would be gifted a history of an estate “now grappling with the impact of Crossrail 2” on Chelsea. (Psst… a property committee is being formed by TfL to further examine funding and feasibility.) Lord Cadogan’s foreword to the lavish 200-page history did not disappoint. The Earl writes fondly of working from the estate’s office, then overlooking Cadogan Square. “I recall being rather struck by partially dressed au pair girls taking advantage of the sun.”

Peter Bill is a journalist and author of Planet Property