Battle for the Barracks
5 June 2015 by James Bird
The latest development opportunity which seems to have the commercial world buzzing is the selling off of the Hyde Park Barracks. Talk about this being redeveloped into luxury flats has been going on for years but the last week has seen the emergence of a new contender looking to snatch up the desirable site.
The property is home to the famous household Cavalry of the Royal Family and is currently owned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). However in 2013 the MoD launched Project Rose, which invited interested parties to put forward their bids for the property. The biggest problem though was that any bids must also provide for rehousing the 300 personnel and 250 horses which the barracks currently homes. To further complicate matters, this rehousing must also be within 30 minutes of Buckingham Palace so ceremonial duties can continue. Developers are no doubt accustomed to overcoming difficult challenges but this could be one of the toughest yet given the density of London but reports have said that the Queen’s Guard could be relocated to Regents Park to help speed up this sale.
Despite these obstacles, there is clearly interest in the area which is expected to go for around £650m as another big name has come forward to express their interest. Property tycoon Sir Stuart Lipton has put his name in the running for the site and sources have said that apparently the MoD is keen for him to take charge in developing the site. He supposedly has backing of Malaysian investors supporting this venture. Lipton is already well renowned in the property industry with hugely successful developments such as the Broadgate Circle and is leading the development of Silvertown the industrial area by London City Airport which will take £1.5bn and 10 years to transform into homes and retail and leisure facilities.
However, despite being the most recent developer to throw his name in the ring, there are already numerous other contenders rumoured to have an interest and below are just a few:
- Christian Candy: half of the Candy & Candy brothers and developer of One Hyde Park, he was rumoured to have approached the MoD about the opportunity back in 2012.
- Dixon Jones: a consortium of British Architects headed by Dixon Jones and supported by the Investment Corporation of Dubai. Dixon Jones is the mind behind the planned redevelopment of another former military property in London – the Chelsea Barracks.
- SD&B International: another consortium of architects, developers and investors which is believed to have financial backing from Chinese investors and an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, has been a contender since August 2014.
Despite the vast amount of interest the property has accrued over the last 18 months which it has been informally on the market for, the MoD have said that they are “nowhere near ready to go to tender” and none of the interested parties have been asked to submit their bids yet. It may be that until somebody comes forward with a solution to the rehousing issue, this property could be on the market for a long time to come.