Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Clerkenwell: Change and Renewal, Alan Ainsworth’s new book

With the release of Alan’s new book about the history, architecture and people of Clerkenwell, Lansons was asked, as a local business, to attract interest for the book through an innovative and engaging launch. Lansons wanted to capture the essence of Clerkenwell not just through photographs, but try to bring the book alive through video interviews with some it’s most colourful, long term residents interspersed with footage of its key landmarks.

We also knew that the audience this book would appeal to the most were the very residents the book discussed, so we invited the creative people in EC1, from architects to watch makers, to attend the book launch held here at Lansons.

Lansons launched Alan’s book on 25th January with an evening event which allowed Alan to introduce the book and explain why he had produced it.

This was followed by a short video produced by Lansons Live containing interviews with five Clerkenwell luminaries including a potter, a binder and a pub landlady who all provided colour and insight into the local area, which in turn heightened interest in the book.

The event also allowed all those creative residents to have direct access to the author and an opportunity to purchase a signed copy of his work.

By inviting residents and businesses from Clerkenwell to the launch we raised awareness of the book amongst those most passionate about its subject as well as those who did not know quite how much the area had to offer.

All copies of the book available on the night were sold and Alan’s status as a Clerkenwell expert was secured.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Crossrail: all change at new stations

As its new stations are unveiled, the £16 billion Crossrail project is set to redraw central London's property map. Designs for eight new central London Crossrail stations have been unveiled following the Government's spending review pledge to continue funding the £16 billion east-west train link, due for completion in 2017.

As with previous transport upgrades, such as the Jubilee Tube extension and the DLR, these new Crossrail hubs are set to be a major regeneration catalyst. Not only will the immediate vicinity around the new showpiece stations be physically transformed with new homes, smart shops and offices built above them, there will also be attractive new open spaces and public areas.

Hot tip: Farringdon

Informed property watchers have their eye on one particular place — the City-fringe district of Farringdon. Now one of London's quieter mainline stations, by 2017 Farringdon will be Britain's busiest, with a sevenfold increase in commuters and 140 trains per hour passing through it.

With the advent of Crossrail, Farringdon will be the only London terminus with fully integrated north-south (of the river) and east-west routes; Thameslink — also being upgraded — and the Tube. It will provide direct links to Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton and London City airports as well to Eurostar services at St Pancras and trains to Brighton on the south coast.

Property investment opportunities will be substantial in and around the area. Farringdon sits on the western edge of Clerkenwell and for some time has been an area in transition.

It remains a small-scale business district, popular with creative-sector companies and has a lively nightclub scene, but the projected transport improvements are attracting big corporate occupiers such as Merrill Lynch.

Insiders believe Crossrail will spur the long-delayed redevelopment of nearby Smithfield Market, where a new station entrance is planned. The site has scope for a giant mixed-use scheme, including hundreds of new homes and much-needed shops.

Clerkenwell has become a vast media village but it is beginning to attract City singles — mainly bachelor bankers and lawyers — happy to get home to a relaxed and fashionable young area. David Salvi of estate agent Hurford Salvi Carr: "At the moment Clerkenwell has no direct train link to Heathrow; Crossrail will change this but I think the major plus will be the much quicker connections to Canary Wharf and the West End."

Who's buying now?

Already, boutique apartment schemes are growing up on either side of Farringdon station. Salvi says local niche developers are back on the scene and up to a dozen schemes are in the pipeline.

Prime rump stake

Homebuyers are bound to focus on areas and neighbourhoods thrown into the spotlight by the new route. Though there is no immediate rush to buy, those who make bold decisions now can expect to benefit over the longer term. Off-plan buying opportunities are available in some areas right now.

Monday, 25 October 2010

The Zetter to open a townhouse hotel

The award-winning Zetter hotel (pictured) in Clerkenwell, London, is to expand with the opening nearby of the Zetter Townhouse.

Described as being "like the private residence of the Zetter's eccentric great aunt, full of art collected from her travels abroad", the new property will have 11 bedrooms, two suites, a lounge and a cocktail bar.

"It will be contemporary and slightly dotty, eccentric and even wacky, but chic, cool and quintessentially English," a spokesman said. The design will be by Russell Sage.

Ever since it was opened by Michael Benyan and Mark Sainsbury in 2004, the 59-bedroom Zetter hotel has been inundated with accolades, including London's Best Small Hotel in the VisitLondon Awards and two awards at the European Hotel Design Awards.

It has recently received renewed interest with the arrival of chef Bruno Loubet at its restaurant

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Mayor in Smithfield

“Look, it’s that geezer that plays football! Didn’t you see him play football on the telly that time!” Up goes the shout round Smithfield Market as the Mayor of London conducts a Presidential-style walkabout of the City of London’s last remaining working market (by which we mean ‘market full of honest working class blokes selling proper stuff wholesale,’ not market as in, ‘place to buy over-priced tat off students’).

It’s 7am and BoJo is in full meet-and-greet mode. “Morning, morning,” he blusters as he sweeps down the Grand Avenue of the 800-year-old market grabbing the hands of more or less startled bumerees (we’re not casting aspersions, that is what the market porters are actually called). But, unusually, Boris struggles to get a word in.

“Oi! Boris! You were better looking last time I saw you!” shouts one. Boris grins through his good-natured mauling at the hands of Essex’s finest. “I don’t like you, I like Ken!” shouts another.

Then the complaints start. “Since the Congestion Charge started we have to pay to get home. We come to work at 3am and there’s no public transport then so we have to drive. Now the market’s all finished by 7am – cos all the customers want to get off before the Charge – it used to go till noon.” “We’re dying on our feet, Boris.’’ “The place is dead. Let your eyes be your guide, Boris.”

The Mayor pauses briefly before a sign saying ‘BJ Meats’. Market trader humour could have gone to town with that one, but luckily we were soon moving again. “What do you want me to do?” says Boris, addressing the market traders’ call for a Congestion Charge exemption zone. “You want me to make a fortress Smithfield? A kind of Gaza strip? I can’t. I’d love to, but the lawyers tell me it would never stand up in a court of law. Every night worker in London would want the same exception – and there are tens of thousands of them.”

You have to feel sorry for Boris Johnson – everywhere the face of London goes in his crumpled black suit he faces special interest groups pleading their special cases and cheeky buggers shouting out praise, or worse.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

John McAslan set for Smithfield resurrection

John McAslan + Partners has been brought back into the contentious redevelopment of Smithfield Market after months of uncertainty about the central London project

The practice found itself in limbo in January (AJ online 08.01.10) after site developer Thornfield Ventures went into administration just weeks before it was set to submit plans for the historic plot.

Developer Hammerson initially looked at the viability of the site for administrator Deloitte before selling on the western end of the meat market, the annex block and nearby Caxton House to management house Henderson Global Investors in June.

The AJ understands that John McAslan has now been redrafted to the scheme and there are rumours former Thornfield Properties chief executive Mike Capocci is also back on board.

Clive Castle, project manager and head of Henderson’s central London offices, said: ‘It’s still very early days for us but we are proposing to retain McAslan because we think they are the right people for the job.’

The redevelopment of the site has been shrouded in controversy for nearly a decade. A previous proposal by KPF for Thornfield was ditched following defeat at public inquiry in August 2008.

KPF’s doomed Smithfield scheme

Although McAslan’s original proposals were never made public it is understood they involved suspending a three-to-four storey office block over the main market.

A spokesman for SAVE Britain’s Heritage, which saw a version of the McAslan scheme in October 2009, said: ‘We were pleased to see the retention and refurbishment of the perimeter buildings but we were unable to support the scheme at that stage because of the treatment of the main market block and the height and bulk of the proposed office building above this space.’

McAslan was unavailable for comment

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

ING's new design concept for 50 Farringdon road

50 Farringdon Street is a blunder. The gothic warehouses that transformed this area following the construction of Farringdon Street and the Metropolitan line in the mid-19th century are now being converted with new shops and restaurants along the street. Unfortunately more recent 1980s redevelopment created the commercial building at 50 Farringdon Street which has made no such contribution. The elevation along Farringdon Street provides an uninteresting frontage dedicated to service bays and has no interaction with the street. The main entrance on the corner of Cowcross Street also includes a barrier to prevent pedestrians walking past the doorway, creating an unnecessarily awkward corner at a busy pedestrian crossing on route to Farringdon Tube Station. We can do better.

Proposals by ING (the owner of 50 Farringdon) in conjunction with Islington Council look promising

Friday, 15 January 2010

Hammerson set to take on Thornfield's Smithfield Market scheme

Mixed-use developer Hammerson is to work up proposals for the regeneration of Smithfield Market, after the parent company of original developer, Thornfield Properties, went into administration last week with debts of over £100m

A spokesperson for Hammerson confirmed that the body was in discussions with administrator Deloitte over taking on the Smithfield scheme, but said a specific role had not yet been decided.