Lend Lease Puts Empire House Site Up For Sale

Say that value could be added through a 'masterplan' with adjoining Sainsbury’s site


Former Home of 'Architectural Visionary' Sells for Over Two Million

Another New Development Planned For Essex Place

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Australian property developer Lend Lease appears to be throwing in the towel with its planned development on Chiswick High Road.

It has appointed an agent to offer for sale the Empire House site which takes up over an acre of central Chiswick. After a protracted battle with local residents they managed to secure planning permission for a residential development at 408-430 Chiswick High Road and on Essex Place at the back of the site. Any sale of the site would transfer the permission to build 137 flats and seven commercial units plus parking with a total Gross Internal Area (GIA) of 14,075 sq m / 151,503 sq ft.

The sale particulars for the site say that it provides, “opportunity to add additional value through a masterplan with the adjoining Sainsbury’s site”.

There has been long term speculation about Sainsbury’s plans for its Chiswick site. Back in 2012, architect’s plans for a massive redevelopment of the area which would have moved the frontage of the Sainsbury’s store onto this location on Chiswick High Road were published by ChiswickW4.com. Sainsbury’s objected to Lend Lease’s plans and it is believed that some discussion has taken place of a joint development of the site.

Lend Lease's plan for Essex Place

Sainsbury’s recently acquired the site on which their supermarket is located and they have confirmed they are considering a mixed-use development in Chiswick in a trading statement issued by the company. The Sainsbury site runs from the back of the Empire House development to the railway line and includes both the supermarket site and car park - the latter is subject to a covenant with Hounslow Council but only in relation to charges for parking. It is understood that Sainsbury's do not believe that the covenant would prevent them developing the site.

The Lend Lease scheme for Empire House/Essex Place was unpopular with a section of the local community and resident groups and one local unsuccessfully sought a judicial review of the manner in which Hounslow Council's awarded planning permission to the developer.

A letter sent to the Council's Planning Committee by Indigo, a planning consultancy representing Sainsbury's, stated that their concern was based on "the piecemeal nature of the proposed development which is premature and prejudices the comprehensive development of the whole site, including the Sainsbury's store and car park, which is an emerging policy requirement of the Council."

Lend Lease did set up a sales office for the flats in the development on Chiswick High Road branding them as the ‘Opus Collection’ with the cheapest ones being priced at nearly £700,000. It is believed that a subsequent deterioration in the market for new build flats at this price level meant that sales were slow.

Karen Liebreich of the Chiswick High Road Action Group (CHRAG) said, "CHRAG is unsurprised to see that Lend Lease has now decided to sell up. Having blighted part of our High Road by closing down the shops in their frontage; having annoyed every local residents' group in the area by fighting for a higher, wider and deeply unsympathetic development; having pushed local residents to taking the council to Judicial Review on the treatment of the planning process; having promised much community benefit and delivered precisely zero; having left their site vacant and desolate for two years; our immediate feeling is good riddance. Chiswick High Road Action Group looks forward to an honest and constructive discussion with the new buyer about what they plan for the site."

We have asked Lend Lease for a comment and await a reply.

March 25, 2018

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