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Sultan Of Brunei Gets Nod For £200M Berkeley Square Revamp

The new plans for Lansdowne House on Berkeley Square

The investment arm of the state of Brunei has received planning permission to undertake a major redevelopment of a Berkeley Square office set to cost around £200M.

The Brunei Investment Authority received permission from Westminster Council to redevelop and extend Lansdowne House on the south side of the square. CO-RE is the development manager and AHMM is the architect.

The new scheme will comprise 10 stories and include 14K SF of retail and restaurants on the ground floor, as well as an extended public realm around the building, a roof terrace, balconies and 480 basement cycle spaces along with showers and changing facilities. The building will be extended from 181K SF to 225K SF. 

The building is 98% occupied with leases that all expire before 2021. The redevelopment is slated to take place from 2022 to 2026. 

The new Lansdowne House is designed to last at least 100 years, CO-RE said, and to achieve the highest possible standards for sustainability and wellbeing — BREEAM rating “Outstanding” and WELL Platinum.

These will be achieved by replacing the current building’s multiple cores and low floor-to-ceiling heights with a sway frame structure. This will allow the redeveloped Lansdowne House to have more generous floorplates and a new centralised core that can be easily adapted and reused in the future without requiring demolition of the building.

Openable windows that provide more fresh air and much higher floor-to-ceiling heights that maximise daylight will have a positive impact on the wellbeing of its users whilst enabling the building to adapt to a changing climate, the firm said. 

The redevelopment could create one of the most valuable buildings in the West End, where office buildings on this scale are rare. Data from Cushman & Wakefield shows capital values for the best spaces in the area are between £2,500 per SF and £3K per SF, which would value the building at more than £550M. 

The Brunei government attracted controversy in 2019 when it proposed new Sharia laws, which include death, potentially by stoning, for those found engaging in same-sex intercourse. The proposed laws led to a boycotting of the hotel assets owned by the BIA, including the Dorchester in London, before the government discarded the proposed legislation. 

The current Lansdowne House, built in the 1980s, is on the site of the garden of the original mansion house of the same name, which was built in 1763 by John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, a nobleman who became prime minister.

It was bought a year later by William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne, who also became prime minister. A buy-to-let investor with a good eye for location, he rented the house out to wealthy families, who were attracted by interiors so lavish that when the house was partly demolished in the 1930s they were sent to art museums in New York and Philadelphia. 

Famous tenants included William Pitt the Younger, Viscount Astor and department store founder Harry Gordon Selfridge. Part of the original house remains standing and was turned into the Lansdowne Club, across the road from Lansdowne House.