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Foster’s Principal Place put on hold as tenant pulls out

Foster and Partners’ £290 million Principal Place scheme in London will start on site later than previously expected

The contract award for the £290 million Principal Place could be put on hold after a deal between developer Hammerson and tenant CMS Cameron McKenna broke down.

Rival contractors Skanska and Sir Robert McAlpine are currently in advanced talks with Hammerson and a preferred bidder is due to be appointed soon.

A Hammerson spokeswoman confirmed to sister title Construction News that a preferred bidder would be appointed as planned but that building work would not commence until a new tenant was in place.

Hammerson had agreed initial head of terms with law firm CMS Cameron McKenna for 18,600m² out of a total 55,000m² of offices available.

The 50 storey tower will also house 298 flats.

The project gained planning approval in July and could be completed within two years of the start date.

But in a statement released this morning CMS senior partner Dick Tyler said:  ‘As a result of the current uncertainties in financial markets, we decided not to enter into a significant long-term premises commitment. 

‘We have been working well with Hammerson, and Principal Place will be a high-quality head office in an excellent location, however we will postpone our decision to move until market conditions are more stable.

‘The firm’s lease of Mitre House in Aldersgate Street expires in 2015 and we will explore our relocation requirements in London nearer the expiry date.’

Hammerson chief executive David Atkins reiterated his long held decision not to ‘expose our shareholders to excessive risk through building London offices on a speculative basis’.

He said:  ‘We have made good progress with the design and planning of Principal Place over the last six months, which I am confident will further improve its appeal to potential occupiers, and we continue actively to seek office tenants.

‘We are clearly disappointed by CMS’ decision to postpone their relocation until market conditions are more stable, but understand their position.’

In July last year Foster + Partners won planning permission for revised plans for the project.

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