Brunei takes on Qatar in the London great property bring-and-buy sale

As big players from Brunei bid to buy Queensway, Jonathan Prynn on how the gas-rich state and its equally small but powerful Gulf rival, Qatar, are taking over the capital’s top property assets (source: Evening Standard)

The tiny emirate of Qatar has outgunned global powers such as Russia, China and the US to accumulate a glittering multi-billion-pound portfolio of trophy London assets, ranging from Harrods to the Shard. Now an even smaller pint-sized statelet is in town — and ready to spend. Armed with petrodollars earned from its vast gas reserves, Brunei is joining the capital’s great property bring-and-buy sale.

Investors from the sultanate — which has a population that would barely fill Bristol — have emerged as the main backers of a £1 billion scheme to snap up the whole of Queensway in west London’s Bayswater.

It is not the country’s first foray into prime London property — the Brunei Investment Agency already owns the Dorchester Hotel in Mayfair and its sister hotel 45 Park Lane, and more purchases are expected.

Both countries were once coloured pink as mini-possessions within the British Empire. Qatar was a British protectorate until 1971 while Brunei gained independence in 1984. Now the two former colonial outposts — the 100-mile long Arabian peninsula and the even teenier fragment of a south-east Asian island — are carving up the capital of the country they once called the motherland.

How big — or small — is it?

About half the size of Wales, with a population a quarter of London’s. More than 90 per cent is barren, featureless desert and half of its people are crammed into the capital, Doha, on the east coast.

Minuscule — makes Qatar look like a geographical colossus. Covers an area no bigger than Norfolk and is mainly dense tropical rainforest. The capital is Bandar Seri Begawan.

Could you find it on a map?

Not easy. But see the bit sticking out into the Arabian Gulf just below Bahrain and opposite Iran? It’s there.

Even harder. Often confused with Bahrain, or Bhutan. It occupies two unconnected slivers on the coast of Borneo, the biggest island of the Indonesian archipelago, east of Singapore. First find Borneo, then zoom in on its Malaysian half. See the enclave on the north coast? That’s it.

Who runs it?

One extended family. The Harrow and Sandhurst-educated eighth Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, took over the throne occupied by his dynasty since 1825 when his father unexpectedly abdicated in June. The seventh Sheikh, said to be worth about £2 billion, had earned the nickname “London’s landlord” because of the extraordinary buying spree during his reign that was largely orchestrated by his second cousin  — former Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani. The ex-PM is said to own a triplex apartment at the top of one of the towers of One Hyde Park, the luxury block largely funded with Qatari money.

Like Qatar, it is a family affair. The ruler is the 29th Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, who is also its first prime minister, and, yes, also trained at Sandhurst. As in Qatar he got the gig when his father abdicated, although in his case it was in 1967. Lives a life of unfathomable opulence with his wife Pengiran Anak Saleha in the 17,888-room Istana Nurul Iman palace, said to be the biggest single family residence ever built. His personal fortune is estimated at more than £10 billion, making him the world’s second richest head of state.

What do they own in London?

The Qatari state shopping bag has been filled with such a remarkable collection of prizes that it has earned the capital the nickname Londoha. As well as its most famous department store, its tallest building and its most expensive block of flats, Qatari wealth was behind the Olympic Village, the £1 billion Chelsea Barracks site, the Canary Wharf property empire that includes the Docklands financial district, the Walkie Talkie tower in the City and the Shell Centre on the Thames. The Qatari Investment Authority also has a 20 per cent holding in the London Stock Exchange and, through its ownership of a 20 per cent stake in property company Chelsfield, interests in Camden Market and the former Commonwealth Institute building in Kensington.

Mere window shoppers compared with the Qataris — for now. Little is known about the activities of the Brunei Investment Agency. Its best known London asset is the Dorchester hotel, which includes the three Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse restaurant, bought in 1987. It also owns nearby boutique hotel 45 Park Lane, home to Wolfgang Puck’s CUT restaurant. The Sultan’s younger brother Prince Jefri once owned the Bond Street jeweller Asprey. It emerged this week that Brunei money is behind the extraordinary swoop on Queensway, the half-mile-long drag in Bayswater developers want to turn into a smart new “Covent Garden of the west”. The Sultan has denied any direct involvement and the money is rumoured to have come from one of his ex-wives, London-based former stewardess Hajah Mariam.

Where do they get their money from?

Qatar sits on 14 per cent of the world’s natural gas reserves, third behind only Russia and Iran. Annual production of more than 157 billion cubic meters gives the Qataris a financial firepower that can outgun countries many times its size. It’s also a major oil producer but it won’t last for ever, and Qatar is reinvesting its revenues in timeless assets, such as London property, that will be around when the wells run dry.

Ditto but on a slightly smaller scale. It is the fourth-largest producer of liquefied natural gas in the world at around 10 billion cubic metres a year and is the third biggest oil producer in south-east Asia. But proven oil and gas reserves will start to run out over the coming 30 to 40 years. Oil and gas accounts for 50 per cent of GDP and 90 per cent of exports. Buying up swathes of London might look an attractive diversification.

Should we worry?

The Qataris like to keep a low profile and are usually seen as good long- term investors. They are sensitive to criticism — state-owned developer Qatari Diar withdrew its Richard Rogers-designed plans for Chelsea Barracks when Prince Charles wrote to his friend and then Qatari prime minister to complain.
A more irritating side to the Qatari love affair with London are the lurid “glow in the dark” supercars that junior members of the Thani family like to put through their paces on the streets of Knightsbridge.
Although Qatar’s human rights record is far from the worst in the Gulf region, there are concerns. The world’s largest trade union confederation, ITUC, has said the conditions of the migrant workers who represent 90 per cent of Qatar’s labour force were close to “modern-day slavery”.

Even more camera-shy than the Qataris. The country is stable but most of the bad headlines of recent years have been generated by the Sultan’s “black sheep” younger brother, Prince Jefri , whose almost comically extravagant playboy lifestyle led him to being virtually exiled from Brunei. The father of 18 was said to be burning through $50 million a month at the height of his spending and owned five yachts, one named Tits, with tenders called Nipple One and Nipple Two.
The Sultan is effectively an absolute monarch and political rights are extremely restricted under a 1962 state of emergency which is still in existence today. However, his regime is seen as largely benign and abuses of human rights are rare.

Useless fact

One of the worst places in the world for men to look for female love. Huge influxes of migrant workers mean three-quarters of the population are men, of whom two-thirds, not surprisingly, are officially classified at bachelors.

Brunei has the world’s highest level of car ownership, with 691 cars per 1,000 people. The average is lifted a bit by the Sultan, who owns around 5,000 vehicles, including 130 Rolls-Royces.

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London rent soars to average of £1,100

Private rents have reached their second highest levels since 2008 as activity returns to the sector, a major lettings network has reported, with London rents powering ahead.

Average London rent now stands at £1,126, having risen at a much faster rate than inflation. London rates are up by 4.8 percent year-on-year.

Official figures released yesterday showed that house prices in London are also up by nearly 10% year-on-year, indicating the strength of demand for homes in the English capital.

Nationally, average rent stands at £743, just £1 less than an all-time high recorded in October 2012, according to LSL Property Services, which owns chains Your Move and Reeds Rains.

The pace of rent increases stepped up to 0.7% month-on-month in August, following a 0.2% monthly uplift in July.

Rents are 1.3% higher across England and Wales than a year ago, showing an increase which is still less than half the rate of consumer price index (CPI) inflation at 2.7%.

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services, said that weak income growth, which has an impact on households’ ability to borrow, and a lack of housing supply means that the private rental sector is continuing to see strong demand from new tenants.

He said the upward pressure on rents is also coming from an uplift in student renters returning to the market as the new academic year begins.

Mr Newnes said: “Better availability of finance has allowed some households to leave the rental market. And rents certainly felt the short-term impact of that.

“But releasing a blast of pent-up pressure to buy a home is unlikely to change the long-term trend in renting.

“Although Government schemes are helping, buying a first home is still extremely hard on the back of low salary growth.”

Tenant finances also improved in August, with 7.8% of rent late or unpaid during the month, down from 8.1% in July.

Mr Newnes put the improvement in part down to the softening of rental inflation seen earlier this year which gave tenants some “relief”.

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City of London: Evening Standards area guide

Despite towering prices and brutalist buildings, the City of London has lots to offer those who work and play hard, says Anthea Masey

Property area guide on City of London with average property prices, current houses and flats for sale, best streets, up-and-coming areas and commuting times

City of London new homes news: apartments on the top six floors of The Heron – the City’s largest new homes development – are currently being released, and Berkeley Homes is converting Roman House into 90 flats.

Best-rated schools: there are mainly private schools within the City of London, although the one state primary school is judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.

Renting guide to the City of London: despite high prices, renting within the square mile is a popular option for professionals and sharers who want to walk to work.

Bank of England

During the Second World War, much of the City of London was wiped out by German bombs. Cripplegate ward was flattened, leaving only 48 residents. So in the late Fifties the City of London Corporation built Barbican there, one of London’s largest housing estates. The fortress-like estate’s concrete brutalist towers are humanised by a landscape of waterfalls, a lake, private gardens, an arts centre and a medieval church.

The City vies with New York for the title of the world’s leading financial centre. It’s a townscape dominated by streets of office blocks and landmark towers — not a place that encourages residents. The Square Mile has fewer than 8,000 residents — most of them living in Barbican — and over the next decade it doesn’t expect the number to grow beyond 10,000.

It remains a “city within a city”, with its own system of local government that dates back to medieval times, when the craft guilds controlled trade. Today their successors, the powerful livery companies, still hold sway, electing the Lord Mayor of London. The City is the only council in the country where the business community retains the right to vote in local elections, a franchise that was swept away elsewhere in the Sixties.
City view

Houses and flats for sale in the City of London
Most homes are concentrated in Barbican, but in the small enclave of streets between Blackfriars and St Paul’s, and in Smithfield, there are warehouse apartments and flats above commercial premises. Barbican homes range in price from £325,000 for a studio to £2.25 million for a five-bedroom house. Frank Harris, the only estate agent with a Barbican branch, is selling a four-bedroom house with a roof terrace in The Postern for £2.25 million.

City of London map

The Grade II-listed Golden Lane Estate on the western edge of Barbican was built as social housing by the City of London. Like Barbican, it was designed by Chamberlin Powell & Bon. Now around half the flats are privately owned and are popular with the design-conscious. Prices here start at about £275,000 for a studio. A two-bedroom flat sells for around £550,000 to £600,000, compared with £750,000 to £800,000 at Barbican.

The City also extends to a small area east of Bishopsgate around Petticoat Lane market, where there are flats available above commercial premises. Petticoat Tower, a Sixties brutalist block also built as social housing by the City of London, has a raised communal garden, and leasehold apartments here are among the cheapest in the neighbourhood. Two-bedroom flats sell for about £325,000.

In Middlesex Street, 85 new council flats are being built, the first new social housing since the Sixties. The keys to the first 24 were recently handed over. A total of 237 new social housing flats are planned before the end of 2016.

The City has a mix of offices and flats with spectacular balcony views along the Thames

Travel: almost every London Underground line passes through the City and there are six mainline train stations: Liverpool Street, Moorgate, Cannon Street, Fenchurch Street, Farringdon and Blackfriars. The new Crossrail link will have stations at Farringdon and Liverpool Street. All stations are in Zone 1 and an annual travelcard costs £1,216.

The area attracts: with many traders at their desks by 7am, many homes here are pieds-à-terre inhabited only during the working week. However, Tina Evans of Frank Harris said Barbican is home to a surprising number of families. “There are good nurseries and schools and I know families who share nannies. We also get downsizers who like the culture at the Barbican Centre — and living on one level.”

The Square Mile has less than 8,000 residents – most of them living in the Barbican

Staying power: Tina Evans says there is a lot of movement within the Barbican and she often finds herself brokering swaps with people wanting a larger flat or house swapping with someone wanting something smaller.

Postcodes: The Barbican is in EC2 that also includes Bank, Liverpool Street and Broadgate; Smithfield is in EC1; Aldgate, the area around the Lloyd’s building is in EC3; and from Mansion House to St Paul’s to Blackfriars it is EC4.

Best roads: In the City is it more the best tower blocks and on the Barbican it is the towers with the best views: Cromwell faces south west, while Shakespeare and Lauderdale face south west.

Up-and-coming areas: the Golden Lane Estate is often referred to as the poor man’s Barbican; flats here are cheaper and the quality of design is high.
The Royal Exchange

Shops and restaurants: The arrival of many luxury brands in the Royal Exchange next to the Bank of England and the new shopping centre One New Change at the top of Cheapside behind St Paul’s Cathedral has greatly improved city workers’ lunchtime window shopping and credit card busting experiences.

The Grand Café in the central atrium at the Royal Exchange is one of the most impressive spaces in the City where shoppers can enjoy everything from a coffee to a cocktail to a full meal before shopping at the likes of Boodle, Bulgari, Hermes, Gucci, Smythsons or Tiffany.

At One New Change there are over 60 shops and restaurants on three floors in a building designed by award-winning French architect, Jean Nouvel. Here there are branches of high street brands H&M, Top Shop, Banana Republic, Reiss and Karen Millen.

Jamie Oliver’s grill restaurant Barbecoa and Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Kitchen are here. There are three one-star Michelin restaurants: Pascal Aussignac’s Club Gascon in West Smithfield specialising in food from the south west of France; Gary Rhodes’ Rhodes Twenty Four on the twenty fourth floor of Tower 42 in Old Broad Street and Galvin La Chapelle in Spital Square.


Leisure and the arts: Barbican Centre, a world-class facility with a concert hall, two theatres, cinemas and art gallery, is home to the London Symphony Orchestra. The Museum of London charts the capital’s history in objects from a Roman “bikini” to a suitcase carried by a Turkish-Cypriot refugee in the Seventies.

Other museums include the Bank of England, the Clockmakers’ Museum, the Barts Hospital museum and the Guildhall Art Gallery.

Council: City of London Corporation (the councillors and aldermen sit as independents). Band D council tax for the 2013/2014 year is £943.39.

Five-year property price trends: City of London


City of London

Value trends UK comparison: 2008-2013
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New homes in London’s Zone 2 fringe areas

Buyers who do their homework are finding the best deals in London’s Zone 2 as developers are building more south of the river and in areas such as Vauxhall, Fulham and Hammersmith. By David Spittles

* Riverside districts on the south bank of the Thames, such as Nine Elms and Vauxhall, are set to jump in price during the next five years

* More people are moving south of the Thames as buyers are realising they can get property twice as big for half the price.

* Up to 60 per cent of the capital’s new homes in the next decade are planned in inner-London boroughs, including Islington, Southwark, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Hammersmith, Fulham, Camden and Hackney.

Nine Elms

Zone 2, ringing central London’s most expensive neighbourhoods, is the area of choice this autumn for smart home buyers searching for space and good value.

Developers are stepping up to build more homes in Zone 2 areas — finding that they can build bigger and sell to a market likely to thrive in the next five years. Leading estate agents also predict these so-called “non-prime” areas will see the biggest price gains.

“Even some wealthy buyers cannot afford to live in the best central locations,” says Andrew Palmer of property consultant DTZ. “This has triggered a hunt for cheaper addresses that are still close in.”

Holborn and Aldgate are changing fast as they return to residential, and have still to reach their full potential for prime inner London. Buyers are also looking with fresh eyes at Bloomsbury and Barnsbury, and family-friendly neighbourhoods such as Primrose Hill, Wandsworth and Fulham, where smart riverside developments are under way.

Increased stamp duty thresholds are having an impact, too. Buyers want to avoid the higher rate payable on homes priced above £1 million (five per cent) and £2 million (seven per cent). Often this boils down to buying a home with a value of no more than £1,000 a square foot, a price point that has spread to reach Hammersmith in the west, Lambeth to the south, Swiss Cottage in the north and Shoreditch in east London.

“Second-tier areas often have a greater variety of property and a more village-like feel, which makes them a prime opportunity even if they are not ‘prime’ areas,” says Nicholas Finn, director of Garrington Property Finders.

Hammersmith new homes

Good-quality homes in fringe areas
The property experts are beginning to think that the top-tier areas, such as Knightsbridge and Mayfair, have peaked in value and that a “catching-up” process is kicking in as developers deliver better homes in fringe areas.

This is borne out by the latest Land Registry data showing some Zone 2 boroughs registered double-digit price rises over the last year, ahead of Kensington and Chelsea.

Moving to the other side of the river
Cross-river moves, once uncommon, are another market trend, according to Winkworth, which has 60 branches across London. The main flows are from north and west London to south London, where family houses are significantly cheaper and new London Overground stations are helping to revitalise areas such as Brockley, Dulwich and Crystal Palace.

Buyers are realising they can get a property twice as big for half the price and still get to work quickly. One hot address is Telegraph Hill, SE14, where large Victorian houses priced up to £1.3 million are attracting City people, doctors and lawyers from other parts of London. The commute to London Bridge is six minutes. Houses with the same floorspace in, say, Pimlico would cost £3.5 million-plus.

Research by property data company Lonres shows square-foot values in south London average £650. This compares with £956 in north London and £1,075 in west London. New developments are of varying quality and scale, and many are under construction, meaning buyers have to beware and do their homework.

For family buyers, the good news is that planners are keen to encourage more and better new-build houses. Five years ago, 95 per cent of all new homes in the capital were apartments whereas by 2015 about 30 per cent of new homes will be houses.

“Well-designed townhouses do not have to cost a fortune and boost areas by attracting families, who demand better schools, libraries, parks and neighbourhood shops,” according to Sean Ellis, managing director of St James, soon to launch 13 four-bedroom houses at Hurlingham Gate, Fulham. Coming later are 68 apartments. .

The inner-London boroughs with the most new homes
In the spotlight are Islington, Southwark, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Hammersmith, Fulham, Camden and Hackney. Up to 60 per cent of the 278,000 new homes planned for London during the next decade will be built in inner-London boroughs.

New homes St Dunstan's Court

New riverside homes by the Thames
Riverside districts on the south bank of the Thames are set to jump in price during the next five years, says Knight Frank. “Nine Elms to Vauxhall will change out of all recognition, while the extension of Tate Modern, due for completion next year, will see Bankside values rising even higher.”

South Bank Tower is a refurbishment of an office skyscraper in Stamford Street bringing 173 private homes. Prices from £625,000. Directly opposite on the north side of the river is Holborn, which takes in the former newspaper district around Fleet Street and the historic Inns of Court, and borders Georgian Bloomsbury.

Global law firms have moved in recently, sparking demand for local main homes, and crash pads for high-earning career professionals. There are niche developments of boutique flats, in keeping with the area’s individuality, but bigger projects are under way.

A slab of nondescript office blocks by Temple station has been bulldozed to make way for a courtyard complex of 206 apartments.

St Dunstan’s Court, an outdated office building on Fetter Lane, is being redeveloped by Taylor Wimpey into 76 apartments. Prices from £790,000.

New homes in Fulham

Fulham’s future
Fulham is described as “affordably prime” by Jo Eccles of Sourcing Property. Family houses sell for approximately £1.5 million to £3 million, the same as a prestige apartment in one of Chelsea’s best roads. Waterfront regeneration is bringing cafés, bars, boutiques and galleries to former industrial zones. Fulham Riverside, between leafy, polo-playing Hurlingham Park and sought-after Peterborough Estate, replaces a supermarket depot.

The 8.25-acre development will have 463 homes either side of a central piazza and boulevard leading to the river. Prices from £525,000.

Developer London Square is aiming to capture SW3 emigrés at Farm Lane townhouses. The two-acre site, once a base for horses and Hackney carriages, is set to become a traffic-free retreat with 40 homes. Residents will have use of an underground private garage with direct access to the house. Construction is under way.

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New riverside villages planned for Greenwich

The latest riverside schemes are bringing back to life “lost” riverbanks with not just new homes, but new communities that include cultural centres and improved transport links. By David Spittles

* The latest riverside district to be revitalised is a nine acre site between Greenwich town centre and Greenwich Peninsula.

* New schemes will include 770 homes at Enderby Wharf, a series of apartment blocks at River Gardens (formerly Lovell’s Wharf), 980 homes at New Capital Quay and 247 homes alongisde a 38,000sq ft gallery at Paynes & Borthwick Wharf.

* Greenwich town centre and the medieval market square is being revamped and prized Georgian buildings are being refurbished.

New Capital Quay

Lessons have been learned from the recent “underwhelming” regeneration of stretches of the Thames. The latest plans for new waterfront districts are altogether more ambitious and imaginative. They are bringing back to life “lost” riverbanks, not just by building new homes, but new communities that include cultural centres and improved transport links.

The waterfront should be a destination for Londoners to enjoy, so today’s planners want to avoid the previous sterile gated enclaves created for rich buyers that were set apart from surrounding neighbourhoods.

Neglected Greenwich strip revitalised
The latest district to be launched will be the nine acre site that forms part of the neglected strip of riverbank between Greenwich town centre and Greenwich Peninsula, where the 02 Arena sits.

For years the so-called “Thames path” has been inaccessible there, blocked by depots and disused wharves. But Greenwich, with its maritime past, will have a new chapter in its history when work starts next month at Enderby Wharf, where 770 homes will be built alongside the capital’s first cruise line terminal, along with a hotel, shops and rivertaxi pier.

An adjacent showpiece scheme is River Gardens, formerly Lovell’s Wharf, occupying a dramatic bend of the river. The bright green laser marking the meridian from the Royal Observatory cuts through the 12-acre site, which was snapped up several years ago by reclusive billionaires Richard and Ian Livingstone, whose trophy assets include Strand Palace Hotel and Cliveden House in Berkshire.

The brothers appointed renowned architect firm Squire and Partners, which has designed a series of apartment blocks built at a right angle to the river and separated by waterside squares and gardens (described as “breather spaces”), tennis courts and a landscaped promenade.

It is an inspired design, resulting in no obvious front or rear side to the development and allowing open views from all the apartments.

Inside too, the emphasis is on space and natural light. Bigger-than- average flats have floor-to-ceiling windows and some apartments have two balconies to maximise the sweeping views. Italian kitchens and bathrooms are a grade above the norm. Apartments are also pre-cabled and have reinforced walls for plasma televisions. Storage cages are for rent in the underground car park.

Eventually there will be more than 600 homes in eight buildings, plus restaurants, crèche and supermarket. Prices start at £300,000. Double-height penthouses are coming later.

Enderby Wharf was first developed in the 18th-century by a whaling company and was later used to manufacture the first transatlantic telecommunications cables and a cross-Channel petrol pipeline to support the D-Day invasion.

Barratt is building the residential element, while the cruise liner terminal is being developed by Morgan Stanley Real Estate and West Properties. Cruise ships docking in the heart of Greenwich will be a game changer, allowing up to 3,000 people on board to visit all the local attractions, a huge commercial boost.

Greenwich town centre revamp
With its post-Olympic glow and recently-conferred Royal Borough status, the old naval town is sailing forward at full speed.

Already a Unesco World Heritage Site — because it is the “finest and most dramatically sited architectural and landscape assembly in the British Isles” — the town centre is getting a facelift too. The medieval market square is being upgraded and prized Georgian buildings refurbished in a Marylebone-type makeover that aims to spruce up Greenwich’s retail and residential draw.

New Capital Quay, a “waterside village” of 980 homes being built in a former dock basin moments from Cutty Sark, has a central boulevard and plaza that has created a new vista of the Thames. A curving 14-storey tower has duplex penthouses with glazed winter gardens and the complex will have an art gallery, museum, crèche, design studios, bars and restaurants. Prices from £340,000.

Joined up thinking by planners has resulted in a new pedestrian bridge across the dock which links a broken riverside path. This has helped open up a closed zone where a major new cultural venue is to be unveiled next month. The 38,000sq ft gallery is part of Paynes & Borthwick Wharf, a prized Victorian edifice built in 1860 for the manufacture of marine boilers which were loaded on to ships through magnificent Italianate arches. The restored wharf will house the gallery plus exhibition, commercial and retail space, while glass-walled penthouses are being built on top.

Interactive art
Futurecity, a cultural regeneration agency that works with developers to deliver art projects, says the gallery will focus on “digital art and interactive experiences”. In total, the scheme has 247 homes. Prices start at £250,000.

A masterplan for floating villages
Elsewhere along the Thames, water-based projects seek to use the river for housing and leisure and promote the river as a transport artery.

One idea is for “floating villages of modern, eco-friendly houses”, where residents have security of tenure and own the property and the water below them on 50-year leases. These permanent villages are a far cry from the makeshift, bohemian houseboat communities that have sprung up along London’s canals and rivers. They would be linked by pedestrian and cycle bridges to parks and islands, transport interchanges, leisure and cultural attractions.

Royal Docks, which has more waterfront than Venice, is the most likely area for these new communities, according to London mayor Boris Johnson.

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City Airport in £200m plan to double passenger numbers by 2023

London City Airport today unveiled plans for a £200 million expansion which would let it double its number of passengers over the next decade.

The East London airport’s owners are seeking planning consent for an extended terminal, a new taxi-way and additional parking stands for larger aircraft.

The new facilities would allow City to increase the number of take-offs and landings by 50,000 a year to 120,000 — effectively six million passengers — by 2023, for which they were granted consent four years ago.

But campaigners raised concerns over noise and air quality and called on Mayor Boris Johnson to ensure the airport’s American owners delivered local jobs and growth on the scale of other projects in the Royal Albert Dock — most recently the £1 billion Chinese investment in the “Asian Business Port” which is creating 20,000 jobs.

The airport, owned by American infrastructure fund GIP which also has Gatwick and Edinburgh in its portfolio, wants to use larger aircraft to build capacity at peak hours as 60 per cent of its customers are business passengers.

Chief executive Declan Collier said: “Today we are presenting the detail on how we propose to build the infrastructure for 50,000 more flight movements a year to 120,000 by the mid-2020s. The timing is right as everyone knows that London is moving to the East so our catchment area is growing.

“Sixty per cent of our customers are business passengers and the economy is growing so the potential is great.”

Last year three million passengers used City Airport thanks to an influx for the Olympics but the business is still saddled with losses following its £465 million purchase in 2006.

A new fleet of Bombardier C Series aircraft would serve the airport. Mr Collier said: “The aircraft that will serve the airport will be quieter and cleaner and we will put in place enhanced noise mitigation; all our modelling shows the noise increase will be negligible.”

However John Stewart, of the anti-expansion group HACAN, said: “There is a suspicion locally around bigger planes — those they are proposing to land there have never been tested in service. Residents have already seen noise by stealth when they replaced turbo props 15 years ago with bigger jets and the locals see history repeating itself. Claims that there will be no extra noise are theoretical.”

Alan Haughton, of Stop City Airport, said: “We have grave concerns about air quality. The airport does not deliver economic benefits for the area compared to similar sized sites at Excel and ABP and it should be a priority for the Mayor to maximise this value.”

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Royal Albert Dock developers to move global HQ to London

ABP is redeveloping the Royal Albert Dock into a hub for Asian businesses.

Mayor Boris Johnson has welcomed news that ABP, the Chinese developer transforming the Royal Albert Dock into a hub for Asian businesses, is to move its HQ to the capital.

In May the firm signed a £1bn contract with City Hall to create London’s third major business district which will service Asian and Chinese businesses seeking to do business with the UK and Europe.

The development will include more than 2.5 million square feet of office space, plus retail and leisure facilities and is expected to be ready for its first tenants in 2017.

Speaking at a London-Asia business forum at City Hall today, ABP Chairman Mr Xu Weiping announced the firm is bringing its own HQ to London, a move he said would help “grow the company globally”.

Mr Xu said: “London presents many fantastic opportunities and I believe this is just the beginning of an exciting period of investment and regeneration in the area.”

“We have many leading businesses from Asia here today and I will introduce the Mayor to many more when we welcome him to Beijing later next month.”

Welcoming news of the move, Mayor Johnson said: “It’s fantastic to see ABP voting with their feet and choosing to bring their global headquarters to London.

“A fantastic place to live and work, in the right time-zone to trade between east and west, with a highly skilled workforce and a concentration of first class business expertise, London has an enormous amount to offer businesses and brands from all over the world.”

The Mayor will next month lead a delegation of London firms to China as part of City Hall’s ongoing efforts to attract new investment to the capital and help London businesses increase their sales to overseas markets.

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Property Inside London accessing the China market

We are pleased to announce that Property Inside London is now able to advertise clients’ properties on Sina. Sina is viewed as the most popular and most respected internet brand among the Chinese community in mainland china. It is the largest simplified Chinese web portal, with more than 600 million registered users and 1.2 billion pages viewed daily.

Property Inside London has partnered so that it is able to advertise properties on the newly launched UK property portal. This portal was officially launched on the 1 July 2013 with the mission of creating the best UK property portal for the mainland Chinese people and Chinese communities around the world.

This addition to Property Inside London’s marketing strategy will help attract investors from China. It is a welcome addition to the marketing it can do for clients in England, the Middle East and to its existing database of investors.

If you are interested in appointing Property Inside London to sell your property, please contact

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Below Market Value Properties

We are delighted to announce that we have started offering our clients the opportunity to invest in properties below their market values.


These properties often have the benefit of coming with tenants renting under assured shorthold agreements and therefore providing immediate income. Many are also in London.


We are careful in selecting which opportunities we present to our clients. We also take great care in selecting the parties that we use to source opportunities to ensure that they have appropriate access to the vendors and are presenting reliable information.


The discounts range from 10% to over 40% depending on location, condition and the reason for the vendor looking to sell. By working with our clients we have been able to offer the vendors a speedy sales process in exchange for the discount.


If you are interested in looking at below market opportunities please contact us ( informing us of your requirements.

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