Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

James Cooksey: 'We are increasing spending time with emerging practices'

  • Comment

James Cooksey, head of Central London at The Crown Estate, oversees a £5 billion property portfolio. Below are extracts from a speech he made to the AJ100 breakfast event held at Claridge’s earlier this month.

Crown Estate’s commercial aims
We aim to grow our profits in a steady and sustainable fashion, trying to avoid dramatic peaks and troughs, while also seeking to maximise our long-term total return from the portfolio.

Timescales for projects
I have certainly learnt since being at The Crown, how long the gestation period is for some of these projects – 10-15 years is not unusual. It demonstrates the need to plan for the long term, particularly when taking an estate-wide approach.

Joint ventures
Given that we can’t borrow and have no new sources of equity, our challenge is to find sufficient working capital for the continuing investment in, and development of, our portfolio. From a standing start in 2011 we are now managing more than £1.5 billion in joint ventures following the establishment of four strategic partnerships: with the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund; Ginkgo Tree, the Chinese state investor; and two Canadian Pension Funds, Oxford Group Properties and Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan. These partnerships have been key to enabling our development pipeline in the West End.

The attributes an architect needs
Clearly a track record and experience of working with Westminster in the context of our West End holdings; an understanding and belief in our vision for the portfolio; suitable depth to the team; and, of course, capacity. Above all, though, we look for people and teams that we can collaborate with to deliver great schemes. Particularly for the larger projects, we often go through a competitive process of asking architects to present their thoughts following an initial brief.

New design talent
Increasingly we are spending time with emerging practices, thinking about the future and embracing new ideas. That’s really important – you need to look to the future talent in the industry.

Current schemes
One New Burlington Place (pictured above) follows the hugely successful 10 New Burlington Street, both projects delivered by Mace and AHMM. It will deliver 7,400m2 of high-quality offices, surrounding new public space. The building will be launched in early 2016.

St James’s Market

St James’s Market

St James’s Market is set to create more than 24,000m2 of accommodation, being delivered by Make and Balfour Beatty with our partner Oxford Group properties. It is a transformational scheme of two buildings surrounding a new public square, reconnecting the area between Regent Street St James’s and Haymarket to prime St James’s.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.