26 June 2013

Real estate specialists at Burges Salmon have advised the Mayor of London on plans for the regeneration of a 35 acre site in London’s Royal Docks.

The firm has advised Greater London Authority (GLA), who own the site, from the outset of a competitive dialogue process designed to identify the right commercial developer to transform the Royal Albert Dock.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced on 29 May that ABP (London) Investment Limited had been selected as developer for the 35-acre development. The £1bn deal will re-instate the Royal Docks as a commercial and trading centre for the 21st century, delivering around 20,000 full-time jobs and boosting local employment in Newham by 30 per cent according to the GLA.

The deal is also one of the first direct investments by a Chinese developer in London’s property market and will eventually be home to more than 3.2 million square feet of high quality work, retail and leisure space – becoming London’s third business district. New headquarter buildings will be offered on long leases to companies and organisations from the Far East looking to establish a base in the UK and Europe.

Burges Salmon strategic procurement partner says: “This is a fantastic result for London and one which brings with it the prospect of both additional jobs and investment for the area. We have been delighted to provide support and assistance to the GLA throughout the dialogue process, advising on market testing, strategic procurement and the finalisation of the development agreement.”

Burges Salmon real estate partner, Philip Beer, who led the team that negotiated the terms of the deal with ABP said: “This is a ground-breaking deal – the first time that a Chinese property developer has taken on a project of this scale in the UK. We have seen a surge of activity by Chinese investors in the London and UK real estate markets over recent months. With this precedent now set, other Chinese developers are very likely to follow in ABP’s footsteps.”

Working on the team alongside Philip were Stephanie Rickard (procurement), Amy Simpson and Ruth Wilson (real estate), Paul Merrett (construction) and Fiona Barker (planning). Amy Simpson also undertook a secondment with the GLA during this project’s transition from the London Development Agency.

An experienced developer in China, this is ABP’s first development project outside China. ABP has a  track record of delivering projects of significant scale in China. ABP has recently completed a large development of around 15 million square feet in Beijing, while its Shenyang project in north-eastern China is even larger, with plans for 75 million square feet when complete.

Working with UK developer Stanhope and architects and masterplanners Farrells, ABP has a commitment to developing a minimum of 600,000 square feet in the first phase of the Royal Albert Dock project, with strong interest for office space already being shown by Chinese companies, including some of the country’s top banks. The first occupiers are due to move in in 2017.

In a statement released by the GLA, chairman of ABP, Mr Xu, said: “I am very pleased and very proud that my company ABP has reached this agreement for the Royal Albert Dock with the Greater London Authority. This project will be hugely significant for both the Chinese and UK economies. My vision is to develop a world class international business district which will initially target Asian businesses to help them secure a destination in London, which in China is seen as the gateway to both the United Kingdom and the wider European economy.”

Situated in the Royal Docks Enterprise Zone, the Royal Albert Dock site, when complete, will have some of the best transport links in the capital, with direct access to central and west London, including London Heathrow Airport) via the new Crossrail station coming in 2018. It also benefits from close proximity to the Docklands Light Railway and London City Airport (which provides direct links to New York and Europe’s key business destinations).

Burges Salmon’s work on this project adds to its strong track record in delivering major development projects in London and also ties in with the firm’s wider international strategy – which has seen it strengthening links with China, Hong Kong and Singapore in response to the expansion of many of its clients’ business interests in the Asia Pacific region and as inward UK investment gathers ever greater pace.

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