02 January 2019

For decades, Albert Island has sat neglected just to the east of City Airport in London’s Royal Docks, watching regeneration take place all around it.

For the past 20 years, the Greater London Authority (GLA) and its predecessors have sought to bring trade and industry back to the area, and the western end of the Royal Docks is now a vibrant new community. But Albert Island – a 25-acre site owned by the Mayor of London – had been left behind, until now.

The GLA decided in 2015 to market the site and seek a developer, and in an innovative arrangement, Burges Salmon was appointed alongside TfL Legal to jointly advise GLA as they worked to find a bidder. TfL Legal provides in-house legal services to the GLA, and the idea was that Burges Salmon would provide the external legal advice, working in partnership with them to bring additional resource – a collaborative team of six of our lawyers and four from TfL Legal set out to fully understand the GLA’s objectives and design the procurement process.

The GLA wanted to find a partner for Albert Island that would deliver new commercial opportunities, create employment and improve transport connectivity in line with the Royal Docks’ history. But more than that, it wanted to build and open a new commercial boatyard for boats working on the Thames. The successful bidder would need to be locked into a commitment to deliver that boatyard.

Burges Salmon Real Estate partner Philip Beer worked closely with TfL Legal to divide up workstream responsibilities and run the project. Burges Salmon led on the procurement execution and negotiation of the development partner agreement, while TfL led on the vacant possession strategy.

Philip oversaw the project management and kept in close contact with TfL Legal throughout, which managed the interactions with the GLA: “It was actually an extremely tricky project,” says Philip. “The site had an enormous array of issues and was particularly complex from a legal perspective. But despite all those challenges, to get two very strong bidders come through was a great result and is testament to the expertise of the legal team as a whole.”

Philip says: “The legal team on this project all worked to maximise efficiencies, so rather than doubling up on any work or costs, our priority was to genuinely act as one, collaborative team. This is a practical demonstration of how efficiently you can work if you really focus on project management.”

In early 2018, London & Regional was announced as the successful bidder, with a plan for a £1 billion regeneration scheme. The new boatyard promises to be a state-oftheart centre, designed to service and repair riverboats on the Thames, creating a transport engineering hub and investing heavily in local education and training.

Wil Stewart, Principal Development Manager at the GLA, concludes: “We chose to work with Burges Salmon because of the firm’s ability to advise on these complex, urban, mixed-use propositions. They are not simple developments to get off the ground and Burges Salmon provided a thorough service. We worked with Philip and Drew Nesbitt who were incredibly professional. Philip sat alongside us through a complex and challenging procurement process and it was important that we had someone who was clear, concise and understood our objectives. I felt like we were on a journey together as a client and as a legal adviser, rather than GLA just handing out instructions.”

I felt like we were on a journey together as a client and as a legal adviser, rather than GLA just handing out instructions.
Wil Stewart, Principal Development Manager at the Greater London Authority

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