Agenda item

PRESENTATION BY JOHN BAKER, THE JOHN BAKER GROUP - REGARDING THE REDEVELOPMENT OF WELLS HOUSE, ELMFIELD ROAD, BROMLEY

Minutes:

Mr John Baker, Chief Executive, The John Baker Group gave a presentation regarding the redevelopment of Wells House, Elmfield Road, Bromley. The John Baker Group was a property development and investment company that had started as property advisors in Mayfair during the 1960’s. The group had carried out some of the most prestigious development schemes in the UK and continental Europe. These included Burlington Arcade and No. 25 Hanover Square, the world’s most expensive office building when built in 2006, and the first to achieve £100 per sq. ft. The group were now pursuing projects south of London, with office schemes of 200,000 sq. ft. in Crawley and 250,000 sq. ft. in Haywards Heath, and now in Bromley where they proposed to develop over 0.5m sq. ft. on the Wells House site on Elmfield Road.

 

Wells House was situated around 200m north of Bromley South Railway Station. The site was close to Bromley High Street and was bounded by Kentish Way to the east and Elmfield Road to the west, from which it was currently accessed. The site was neighboured by office units to the north, south and south west which were mainly brick faced, and directly opposite was a multi-storey car park above The Mall retail space which was painted concrete.

 

The majority of the office buildings had been built during the 1980’s and when The John Baker Group purchased Wells House, it had initially been as an investment with the intention to demolish the building once the lease had expired. They had planned to build residential apartments, but following an analysis of the site, they had considered what else could be achieved. The space analysts believed that the redevelopment of Wells House could double the amount of space on offer, and as a result The John Baker Group were looking at the whole of Elmfield Road as a development opportunity to amass a larger scheme over the next five to seven years. They had spoken to all the land owners in the street, and the scheme had been well received. It was proposed that Wells House would be used as a ‘guinea pig’ to see what could be achieved.

 

A pre-application meeting had taken place with the LBB Planning Department the previous week, at which the scheme had also been well received. The planners had preferred a more compact building, so a few design changes were to be made and then a brochure would be produced within the next couple of weeks. Planners were keen to see a conglomerated scheme to change the areas position within Bromley.

 

Mr Baker felt that Bromley had a number of qualities and attributes which were important to attracting businesses. These included it being a compact town which was clean and safe with restaurants and shops; it had a fine airport and was only sixteen minutes by rail from Victoria Station, all of which would attract big space users that needed these types of facilities. Mr Baker said that people go where the product is. This was highlighted by their development in Crawley which was already pre-let.

 

The development in Elmfield Road was a great opportunity for proper, sophisticated marketing, and would be put on an international electronic register. It would be advertised as office space of 150,000 sq. ft. to 200,000 sq. ft., which it was noted was hard to come by, with the whole of the Elmfield Road site being between 600,000 sq. ft. and 1.2m sq. ft. It was now a case of moving forward with the planners to conceive something from all the suggested ideas.

 

Members noted that a nearby development had been refused due to height restrictions, and enquired what the height of the proposed development would be. Mr Baker responded that they would build as high as the planners would allow, and proposed between ten and twelve storeys, but only if it would ‘sit right’. Members asked what sort of rent per sq. ft. Mr Baker expected the site to achieve. Mr Baker replied that around £40 per sq. ft. was anticipated, and he was confident it would be achieved. This was due to the scale of the development which would attract a wider market. Members enquired as to the timescale of the proposed development. Mr Baker responded that it would depend on efficiency with regard to applications and that there were still a lot of discussions to take place to ensure the development was right, but that there should be between two and seven years of real activity.

 

The Chairman thanked Mr Baker for his interesting presentation, and asked to be kept updated on how the scheme was developing. A number of members commented that they were thrilled and excited to see the proposals, and fully supported the scheme as they felt it was a fantastic opportunity for Bromley.

 

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