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

Legal & General developer on the shift to smaller schemes

  • Comment

Simon Wilkes, head of business space development at Legal & General Property, on why smaller projects have become important

How did you become a developer? I wanted to be a geologist until a surveyor talked me into applying for estate management degrees while working at a tennis club bar.

What are you working on? We have just submitted a planning application to Westminster Council for the Make’s redevelopment of 7-10 Hanover Square, London. We recently completed a Darling Associates-designed redevelopment of 6 Agar Street in London, creating 5,300m² of office space while preserving listed facades. We are also working with EPR for the redevelopment of Nestle Tower in Croydon.

What is your favourite building? The Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre in New Caledonia by Renzo Piano.

How have the past few years been and how do you see the future? The past few years have seen the focus shift from fewer large-scale schemes, such as Central Saint Giles by Renzo Piano and Walbrook Square by Foster + Partners, towards a larger number of smaller projects. These have derived from recent site purchases as tightening debt markets gave Legal & General Property a competitive advantage, given its access to equity, and positioned it to buy well-located buildings. If anything, we have been busier in the recession as internal funds have allowed us to buy assets that have refurbishment or redevelopment opportunities.

What do you think of efforts to further reform planning? While the government has aimed to simplify planning at one level, a careful balance needs to be taken with regard to Localism, which can add significantly to the cost, complexity and programme.

What do you want from architects? We look for architects who have a design idea that sets them apart from the rest, for example, Renzo Piano at Central Saint Giles for the vision and colour and Ken Shuttleworth for the stone building at Hanover Square that stands out from the crowd. This is also about listening to the brief and designing within a budget

Which is your favourite project? Central Saint Giles. Eyebrows were raised at such a bold scheme in the credit crunch, positioned in a relatively unknown location.

What other workplace developments do you admire? The Hive in Manchester by 5Plus, for how minimal offices can be.


Subscribe to AJ for £3 per week

Subscribe today and receive 47 issues of the magazine, 12 issues of AJ Specification and full access to TheAJ.co.uk and the AJ Buildings Library

Are you a student?

Students can subscribe to the AJ for £8 per month or £1.60 per week! Click here to start receiving the most recommended magazine for architecture students


  • 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.

Related Jobs

Discover architecture career opportunities. Search and apply online for your dream job.
Find out more