Tag Archives: Swiss Cottage

Essential Living hit by planning u-turn in Swiss Cottage

PRS developer Essential Living has had a setback in its plans to develop a site in Swiss Cottage, north London. Despite being recommended for approval, Camden council’s planning committee turned down the proposal for a 24 storey tower that would have delivered 188 flats, mostly for private rent.

Planning committee members bowed to pressure from a campaign led by local residents, which gathered a 3,000 signature petition against the project. A former English Heritage director involved with marshalling opposition branded the project “monstrous” and “grotesque”.

Objections to the tower came despite improvements the development would bring to Swiss Cottage underground station, and the fact that the proposed height is in keeping with the four 23 storey towers on the nearby Chalcot estate. Currently, a six storey office block sits on the site.

Essential Living plans a new, 24 storey residential tower in Swiss Cottage

Essential Living plans a new, 24 storey residential tower in Swiss Cottage

Despite the rejection by Camden councillors, the project may yet receive approval, as London mayor Boris Johnson has the power to overrule local planners on the project, due to its scale and significance. Johnson is also keen to get more homes built in London, and the Essential Living development would deliver 152 flats for private rent, plus an additional 36 affordable housing units.

This is not the first time Essential has had its development plans thwarted by London borough planners. Earlier this year, it had to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate after Islington council failed to determine an application to reclad an office tower in Archway. There, the objection was to the loss of office space as Essential converts it to housing; councillors also criticised the quality of the proposals.

Essential Living plans private rented development in Acton

Private rented developer Essential Living has bought a former perfume factory in Acton, west London, for conversion to a private rented homes development.

The site, currently home to two office buildings, has the potential to provide up to 500 homes, once redeveloped. Acton is currently the focus of much house builder and private rented sector activity, due to its position as one of the new Crossrail stations; this promises to provide residents with easy public transport access to central London and the City.

Essential Living plans to convert Berkshire House in Maidenhead into flats for private rental

Essential Living plans to convert Berkshire House in Maidenhead into flats for private rental

The site has the potential to take residential towers up to 20 storeys high, with a mix of homes. However, its offices are still occupied, and so any successful planning application could potentially lead to a residential project being completed no sooner than 2018.

Acton’s attractions mean others are taking an interest. Only last month, investor M&G forward funded a project in the area to develop flats specifically for rental.

Charlie Hustler, head of land at Essential Living, told Property Week: “This is our most ambitious project to date, both in terms of scale and scope. The housing offer will boast a range of high-quality apartments and mews homes, forming a truly sustainable community for west London.”

Essential Living's north London redevelopment site in Swiss Cottage

Essential Living’s north London redevelopment site in Swiss Cottage

Essential is backed by US investor M3 Capital Partners, and is already under way on a number of projects. It has bought several sites including an office block in central Maidenhead for conversion to flats, and an office site in Swiss Cottage, where 200 apartments are planned. While Essential’s strategy of buying office blocks and then obtaining planning consent for conversion is risky and slow initially, it does offer the company the potential for greater returns from the portfolio they ultimately develop.