British Land, the UK’s second-largest property company, has entered into a master development agreement with Southwark Council for a £4 billion ($7.1 billion) redevelopment of 21.5 hectares in south-east London.
Surrey Quays, located alongside Canada Water Underground station, could now welcome 3,000 homes, 40 new buildings, three clusters of high-rise towers – rising up to 46-storeys – a leisure centre and a new town centre.
The Canada Water Masterplan would offer 93,000 square metres of workspace and 23,000 square metres of retail, leisure, entertainment and community space.
The proposals also features detailed plans for two mixed-use buildings as well as a separate housing block by Duggan Morris Architects.
British Land has aligned with the local council to guarantee 35 per cent of homes across the site would be affordable.
The site currently includes the dated Surrey Quays shopping centre, the abandoned Daily Mail print-works and the disused Rotherhithe police station.
Although it initially planned to demolish the Daily Mail printworks, British Land said it would keep it after a successful period of it being used as 3,000-capacity music venue.
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British Land has hired Roger Madelin CBE, the man behind the transformation of King’s Cross into the home of Google’s £1 billion (AU$1.8 billion) UK headquarters, to lead the project.
“Drawing on our experience of creating vibrant, mixed-use places across the capital, this major urban centre at Canada Water will provide an exciting place to live, work and visit, delivering high-quality design, active spaces and significant economic and social benefits for the local community,” said Madelin.
“To have one ownership and an opportunity for vacant possession somewhere that is policy compliant and well connected is extraordinary. I never thought there would be another one after King’s Cross, and here there is.”
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The project is being carried out in conjunction with Southwark Council, which will have a 20 per cent share in the land and can also invest up to 20 per cent in the buildings.
Subject to planning approvals, construction of the first buildings will begin spring-2019 , with completion of the entire Canada Water Masterplan expected by 2033.
Roger Madelin Calls for Higher Corporation Tax
In a recent interview with The Guardian, Roger Madelin, who has been tasked with heading the Canada Water Masterplan, described the UK's system for funding social housing as "nuts".
His views reflect a growing frustration that the decades-old system of getting private developers to pay for affordable homes is not only failing to deliver enough cheap housing, it is also a drag on development.
“All companies should pay higher corporation tax,” Madelin said.
“This country needs to have more tax paid. If we did it like that we could get on and do it. It can’t work in the long term, you can’t expect developers to continue to produce for the population’s social needs at this level. It should come from general taxation.”
While the Canada Water Masterplan has dedicated 35 per cent of its new housing towards low social rent, the volume of affordable homes achieved in planning deals across the United Kingdom is often considerably lower.
“If you have a shortage of cars then you wouldn’t get motor manufacturers to subsidise people who can’t afford a decent car.”