Developer looking at retrofit and extension of existing building in wake of last autumn’s decision by communities secretary

Great Portland Estates has said it has not given up on its New City Court scheme near London Bridge after proposals by the developer to build towers of alternative heights were turned down last year.

Communities secretary Michael Gove kicked its plans into touch last September with GPE at the time saying it was working out what to do next.

The developer first lodged its 37-storey New City Court scheme, drawn up by AHMM, in 2018.


Source: AHMM

The 26-storey version of AHMM’s proposals for New City Court, seen at the far right

Concerns were raised about the height of that building so the same architect drew up a trimmed down 26-storey version which was submitted for planning in spring 2021.

But Southwark council failed to make a decision so GPE took both schemes to appeal.

Gove agreed with the planning inspector that neither design for the same plot should be allowed, stating that the high-rise proposals would harm the historic surroundings.

In its annual results published this morning, GPE said: “As a result of the planning decision, we are exploring the opportunity to reuse and extend the existing building, combining fully managed and ready to fit spaces, to create a renewed building with exemplary sustainability credentials, amenity provision, flexible spaces and far-reaching views from large, landscaped roof terraces.”

Mace had been working on the towers plan, which were understood to be worth around £200m, but it is understood GPE’s latest proposal will be put out to tender if the developer presses on with the retrofit and extension plan.

Others working on the scheme included project manager Gardiner & Theobald, structural engineer AKT II and QS T&T Alinea.

Meanwhile, GPE said it expects to complete work on its Minerva House scheme by the third quarter of 2026.

Initial works have begun with Multiplex having a signed a PCSA deal for the job worth around £80m.

The work will involve revamping a 1980s building on the banks of the river Thames in Southwark next month.

The scheme includes a 140,300 sq ft office refurbishment and adding several storeys. Others working on the scheme including Opera as project manager, QS Gardiner & Theobald, structural engineer Heyne Tillett Steel, M&E consultant Hoare Lea and Ben Adams Architects.

And Mace has begun work on £75m office block in a conservation area in the middle of London.

The job at 180 Piccadilly, also known as French Railways House, is due to finish by the middle of 2026. GPE said Lendlease will also complete its work at 2 Aldermanbury Square in early 2026.

GPE chief executive Toby Courtauld said the London office market remained strong because “its occupational markets, particularly for centrally located, Grade A space continue to power ahead with growing demand and shrinking supply”.

The firm said it had committed to £500m of capital expenditure and that it had an acquisition pipeline of £1.4bn with three-quarters of this in the West End and Midtown.