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Mayfair today and in the future

Season 2 Episode 5 | 11 min 48 sec

Podcast Host Georgie Griffiths (Associate Director, National Capital Markets)

Podcast Guest Lucy Puddle, Project Director (Grosvenor Britain & Ireland)


Brief Summary

Lucy takes us through the masterplan approved by Westminster City Council for the South Molton Triangle, with the aim to inject new life into the area whilst keeping Mayfair’s character preserved.


Podcast Transcript

Georgie: Hi everyone, and welcome back to Series 2 of Take 10 with Colliers. I'm Georgie Griffiths in the Retail Capital Markets team and in this podcast I interview industry leaders from across different commercial real estate sectors. Today, I'm being joined by Lucy Puddle who's project director at Grosvenor Group and is heavily involved in their latest South Molton Triangle development. Thanks so much for agreeing to join us today, Lucy.

Lucy: Thank you for having me.

Georgie: So the first proposals for the South Molton Triangle I believe have now been approved by Westminster Council which is obviously very exciting. So for anyone who's not aware, please can you just give us sort of a brief overview of the project?

Lucy: Sure. So the South Molton Triangle is in our North Mayfair estate and it sits opposite the Bond Street underground station and immediately opposite where the new Crossrail station will be. So it's seriously well placed from a transport perspective. It's in the conservation area so it's got a number of listed buildings and historic buildings, so there's a real variety of interesting architecture. And currently, it's rather kind of underutilised and unloved and very much what I would describe as a cut through situation where you sort of walk through it without necessarily stopping there. So the proposals really are about injecting new life into the Triangle and making it fit for purpose for the local community and of course people visiting the area when Crossrail opens.

So principally, it's kind of two new office buildings set amongst the heritage and listed facades that already exist to a greater extent. So it's increased height in the offices, so the offices are increasing by about 56 per cent. And then all the way across the ground floor and basement we've got new retail and F&B. We're also keeping the pub which some people might know which is the Running Horse which I think actually is the oldest site of a pub in Mayfair. There's a proposal for a new hotel at 46 Brook Street as well as private and affordable homes in the upper floors of South Molton Street.

So it's going to be a really mixed-use location with amazing public realms which warrants a bit of an overhaul, because for those people that know it, it's a little bit tired and really we want to make it a safe welcoming environment where people actually want to come to and spend time.

Georgie: Okay, amazing. It sounds like, yeah, there's going to be a real mixture of uses there which is very exciting. South Molton Street is actually one of my favorite streets in London, so very excited to see the project unfold. And obviously, the way in which we've lived, shop, work, etc. has all changed over the last year and no doubt will continue to going forward. Do you think the pandemic has had a big effect on the proposed scheme?

Lucy: I think perhaps less so at this stage, I mean we've clearly all kind of witnessed the devastating impact that it's had and they're very mindful of that in terms of the existing local business and retail community. I think on South Molton Triangle, because obviously, it will take some time to come forward we've got the benefit of being able to see how things change and what the sort of future trends are. Clearly, some of the design will need to change to sort of react to you know changes in people's requirements.

So for example, within the offices we may need a greater degree of separation and different finishes to make them more hygienic, potentially. But I think for me, it's more about as we go through the design now how can we change that to better future proof what we're creating? And actually, the scheme as it stands benefits from Davey's Muse which is very much in the heart of it as well as South Molton Lane, so there's quite a lot of outdoor space as well as residential and office terraces. And for me, I think we need to think very carefully about how that becomes absolutely kind of front and centre in what we're creating. And you know, if I was taking space now, I would want there to be certainly a potential opportunity to be able to be a bit more creative in those external spaces than we might have seen previously.

Georgie: Yeah, definitely. And obviously, the area’s at the heart of London and in the West End and so how are you ensuring that Mayfair's character is sort of preserved?

Lucy: Good question. So we've done a lot of consultation on this project which for me personally has been one of the real sort of privileges is getting to know local people. And I think one thing for me that's come through is despite the Triangle being a little bit under loved and a bit of a cut through, it is well liked and well-loved and the sort of history and the heritage and the historic buildings is something that really sort of engages people.

I mean if you talk to our architects, the new elements of design are well not only visible from the upper floors, but they're a bit more recessed. It's very much about tying in what's there already as much as we can and making that speak for itself rather than being sort of all singing or dancing new design. So where there are elements of new for example in the north building, we're sort of trying to set that back a bit more behind existing facades so that it blends in and complements rather than kind of jars or stands out for the wrong reasons.

And again, for me, you know there have been times when we were looking at taking down a couple of the buildings’ facades and rebuilding them and that presented its own challenges. But in dialogue with people locally, we've actually found that people really liked these buildings, that we really added something to the character and so in consultation with local people, the council, Historic England, and others we've actually worked quite hard to keep some of those heritage facades which involves taking them down and rebuilding them and knotting them in to what's there.

So I think it's an unusual project in terms of the sort of breadth of historic buildings and for me the history of the scheme and how it's evolved over time really adds something to the character. And I sort of, I take that a bit further and say that actually the site has very much been a sort of backland to perhaps more dominant Oxford Street and of course back in the day South Molton Street was a residential Georgian Street so there would have been gardens backing onto South Molton Lane. And again, interestingly, the route of the Tyburn River used to run from Marlborough down to the Thames along the route of South Molton Lane. So yes, that's actually again something that's really come out of consultation has really resonated with people.

And so the area has quite a sort of industrial past in the Triangle itself and we very much want to sort of foster that in the language of the design and indeed the tenants when some of the units come forward. So South Molton Lane will hopefully have a bit more of an industrial character, a bit more quirky. There'll be smaller retail units down there that we call micro-units that I hope will attract slightly more… They're not necessarily innovative, but unusual businesses at lower rents that can trade out of small spaces and do something a little bit different.

Georgie: Yeah, and that's actually amazing as well getting those retailers into sort of central London location where maybe that's not something they've been able to do before.

Lucy: Absolutely. And again, you know with the pandemic, people have gone to online. Haven't they? So they've had to adapt and again that will change the sort of retail landscape. But I imagine that people will still want a presence. So I think those units lend themselves very well to people that want to foothold in Mayfair and a physical location but don't necessarily want loads of space.

Georgie: Yeah. No, definitely. I noticed that your most of your project or all of your projects I think have some fairly ambitious environmental goals. I think you're trying to be net zero carbon by 2030. And so how are you managing to achieve that on this project?

Lucy: That's right. So SMT is a really interesting one, because there's a fair amount of new build but there's also a lot of existing building stock that's being refurbished. It's sort of a tale of two halves. But we are as you say being very ambitious in what we want to achieve from a sustainability perspective. And for me, personally, that goes to how we let up the space so it's really important that we have tenants that share our values and that are striving equally as hard to have a positive impact.

So just to give you a bit of a flavour for that, we've got um the two sort of new buildings across the north and south both share a basement which enables us to have a consolidated servicing and delivery regime, where you ultimately have fewer vehicles coming to the site, those vehicles will be electric, so no carbon association or limited carbon association and ultimately it will give over the public realm to the pedestrian for certainly all of the afternoon and end of the evening, so the air quality will improve.

And within the offices themselves, we are a pioneer project for design for performance. So what that really means is historically buildings have been designed to hit certain targets but not necessarily been well understood as to how they perform in the operational phase. So with a scheme right designed for performance, we can actually track and measure how buildings perform when they're in use and that's something that's come over from Australia where it's been done very successfully.

And then on the refurbished buildings we're trying to reuse as much material as we can and sort of have low carbon interventions. So this is a really exciting aspect of SMT for me and something that kind of resonates all the way through the design team. And a project like SMT will really sort of change what we're trying to do as a business I think, which is you know, you've always got to have good examples of that. And as we work through the latest design stages and indeed when we get into letting we're on green leases etc. then that's when it's really going to come to fruition.

Georgie: Yeah. I mean it sounds like an amazing project so thank you so much for giving us a bit of an insight. And we're coming towards the end of our episode, so if it's okay I'm just going to do a couple of quick fire questions to finish up. So before the pandemic, what was your favourite shop or restaurant in the South Molton Triangle?

Lucy: There are a few restaurants and bars there at the minute, but there is the Running Horse pub so I think I'd have to say the pub. It's a beautiful building and me and the team have had a few drinks there in the past.

Georgie: Perfect. And if you could secure one sort of dream retailer or SME to the scheme, who would they be?

Lucy: Really good question. Gosh! For me, I'd love to have a tenant who kind of did different things at different times of the day. So in the morning, there might be an offer to capture the sort of early bird in the morning commuters and then at lunch you had a slightly different offering and people could pop in between and then maybe it was a place that hosted events or had kind of experiences. So something that evolves and changes and something that offers a lot to the local community but also to visitors and sort of newbies to the Triangle alike.

Georgie: Perfect. Okay, well, that brings us to the end of our episode. So thank you again so much for joining us. As always you can listen to more episodes of Take 10 with Colliers in all of the usual places, so Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, and YouTube. And to find out who we'll be speaking to next, please follow us on our social channels, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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