Royal Mail has sold 2.5ha of its Mount Pleasant site to Taylor Wimpey for £193.5 million. The land has approved plans for a controversial 681-home redevelopment
The AJ understands that Taylor Wimpey will press ahead with the approved scheme, designed by Allies and Morrison, WilkinsonEyre, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and AHMM, which was granted planning permission in March 2015.
The sale is the latest development in a long-running saga over the future of the central London site.
The Royal Mail said the sale meant it could separate the retained operational site from the development plots. This work will cost £100 million and is expected to complete by 2021.
Royal Mail group director of property and facilities solutions Martin Gafsen said: ‘The sale of our development sites at Mount Pleasant to Taylor Wimpey is a great opportunity for us to contribute to the regeneration of the area around our iconic Mail Centre building.
‘This will create more housing, including affordable units, as well as community facilities and more public space. It will also help us secure the long-term future of our key central London operational site.’
A Taylor Wimpey spokesperson confirmed the sale, adding: ‘The development represents a compelling multi-year development opportunity in a high-quality location.
’The acquisition meets all the group’s key investment criteria, including an attractive return on capital, given the phasing of capital deployment.’
The scheme is opposed by many local residents and community group the Mount Pleasant Association (MPA), which submitted plans for an alternative scheme, drawn up by Neoclassical architect Francis Terry, last October.
Working with social enterprise Create Streets, the association submitted the initial designs, supported by London mayor Sadiq Khan, under the Community Right to Build rules. They feature 125 homes, up to half of which could be affordable, as well as 1,200m² of commercial space. According to The Guardian, the group hopes to provide 40 more affordable homes than the Royal Mail’s favoured scheme.
The approved plans straddle two London boroughs, Islington and Camden, whose councils had also fiercely opposed the project. Former London mayor Boris Johnson approved the scheme in principle in April 2015 after using his planning powers to wrest determination of the scheme from the two local authorities.
James Murray, Islington Council’s then executive member for housing and development and the current London deputy mayor, said at the time: ‘A vital opportunity to build hundreds of genuinely affordable homes for local people has been bulldozed by Boris.
‘We need genuinely-affordable housing in the capital - but today’s decision means that Londoners are missing out, whilst investors in luxury flats and Royal Mail shares are benefitting. This decision is wrong for London.’
In 2014, locally based architects Peter Barber and Zaha Hadid both expressed interest in developing alternative designs for the site.