Empire House Project Looks Set To Be Revived Under New Owners

Company backed by Chinese investors appears poised to take over abandoned scheme


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

Another New Development Planned For Essex Place

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There are signs that progress is being made on the abandoned Empire House scheme on Chiswick High Road with a property development company backed by Chinese investors from Hong Kong now involved.

Australian property developer Lend Lease had put the site on the market in 2018 after a turbulent few years which included opposition from local residents' groups and a fall in the market for luxury flats which affected its 'Opus' rebranding of Empire House where units were priced at £700,000 and above.

The area around the scheme has since gone into a decline with complaints of empty shops, flytipping and littering.

A planning application for a ‘Non-Material Amendment’ was made recently to Hounslow Council's planning department on behalf of CHR London Ltd. a company that was incorporated in September of this year. At Companies House the nature of business is given as ‘Development of building projects’.

Two of the directors of this company are Grant Lipton and Dean Clifford. They also joint directors of Great Marlborough Estates. Grant Lipton is the son of Sir Stuart Lipton, the founder of Stanhope PLC which was behind the development of Chiswick Park. Sir Stuart is a Non-Executive Director of Great Marlborough Estates.

They said in an interview in Prime Resi magazine in May 2018, “We have always been interested in more complicated projects and having worked on a number of Listed buildings our interest in heritage in the built environment has grown. One of our aims is to create ‘future heritage’ – buildings that reflect the fabric of London’s urban villages.”

Three of the directors of CHR London are Hong Kong based Chinese nationals, including Yun Kam Lai and Yun Nung Lai.

We contacted representatives for CHR London Ltd who said they had nothing to say at present. Lend Lease have declined to comment.

The changes proposed in the application are minor, relating to the refuse collection area and the rear fire escape with a new doorway proposed on the first floor of one of the buildings. The alterations mean that the floorspace for eight flats in the development will be reduced. The planning consent granted to Lend Lease for Empire House still exists for 137 flats and seven commercial units plus parking, with a total Gross Internal Area (GIA) of 14,075 sq m / 151,503 sq ft.

Discussions about the changes were entered into with the Council in May and the covering letter send with the application states that the planning department agreed that most of them were non-material. New issues had arisen since those discussions but the covering letter suggests they are do not require and significant changes to the plans.

It has not been confirmed if CHR London have acquired the site or if they intend to do so. The application was submitted the Monday after the election on 16 December, which suggests that the applicants were awaiting the election result before a decision was reached to move ahead with plans.

Lend Lease secured planning permission for the residential development at 408-430 Chiswick High Road and on Essex Place, at the back of the site, after a battle with groups representing residents. One local sought a judicial review of the manner in which Hounslow Council awarded planning permission to the developer.

When the site went on the market, the sale particulars commented that it provides, “opportunity to add additional value through a masterplan with the adjoining Sainsbury’s site”.

We have also asked representatives if any progress on the project involves Sainsbury's.

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 was believed that some discussion had taken place of a joint development of the site.

Lend Lease's plan for Essex Place

Sainsbury’s have in the past expressed interest in a mixed-use development in Chiswick.

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.

December 21, 2019

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