Hines bets on London with £1 billion-plus mixed-use scheme

An aerial view of Blackfriars in London showing, in the foreground, the vacant site which Hines has just acquired.

Hines bets on London and on mixed-use. The international real estate firm yesterday announced the completion of the off-market acquisition of a 1.8 acre development site in prime Central London to develop a mixed-use project that will be worth over £1 billion.

The vacant site at 18 Blackfriars Road, which has been acquired for an undisclosed price, has planning consent for a mixed-use scheme. Foster & Partners have been announced as project architect, while Lipton Rogers Developments will lead the development with Hines.

The group described the site as “undoubtedly one of the most sought-after development opportunities in London”.

Detailed plans for the site will be announced in due course, Hines said, but the aim is to create a “highly amenitised, dynamic environment that brings the best of Hines’ global development experience and ESG learnings to benefit the Southwark community”.

Hines will work with the London Borough of Southwark and local stakeholders to maximise the potential of the site, which has been vacant for a long time. The land has changed hands several times in the last few years, passing from Land Securities to Israeli-backed Circleplane before its acquisition in 2014 by Black Pearl, a Malaysian-backed, Jersey-registered company, for £114 million.

Four years ago Southwark Council approved Black Pearl’s plans for several skyscrapers, including one of 53 storeys, designed by Wilkinson Eyre, which would have been the second-tallest on the South Bank of the Thames after the Shard. But nothing was ever built and in 2019 Black Pearl sold the site to a new consortium led by the Hero Group, controlled by Indian businessman Sunil Kant Munjal, for £235 million.

Hines planning ‘development for the next generation’

New owner Hines is determined to bring the project to completion. It will be “a development for the next generation, addressing social, technological and environmental challenges our industry faces moving forward,” said Ross Blair, senior managing director and country head, Hines UK.

“The site represent another acquisition in a super prime location in the heart of London, illustrating our commitment to the future of the capital as a leading global city,” Blair said.

Hines has a strong recent track record of investing in London, both in prime offices and mixed-use space. It is currently on site with a number of redevelopments including the Grainhouse in Covent Garden, designed by Barr Gazetas, which will provide the company’s new European headquarters.

Hines is also working on flagship mixed-use office, retail and residential projects in London’s West End, at 325 Oxford Street and at 80 Bond Street.