British Land Buys City Car Park As It Gets Into Last-Mile Logistics
First, the plan was for a 2,500-seater ballroom. Then came a retail and leisure scheme. Now the underground Finsbury Square Car Park on the edge of the City of London is going to be turned into something a bit more prosaic, though possibly more useful.
British Land has bought the 258-space Finsbury Square Car Park from Hondo Enterprises for £20M. The company said the car park is close to the Broadgate office campus it partly owns, and it provides an opportunity to create a last-mile logistics hub in the City of London where supply for that service is highly constrained.
The deal represents BL’s first foray into last-mile logistics. When its new chief executive, Simon Carter, took the helm at the FTSE-100 REIT last year he set a new strategy for the company that included creating logistics schemes near its existing assets.
It needs one more example to be a proper trend, but converting City car parks to logistics hubs seems to be an attractive strategy for their owners. The City of London Corporation is teaming up with Amazon to turn the London Wall car park it owns into a last-mile hub.
Plans have been mooted for years to convert the car park on Finsbury Square to a different use, as fewer people chose to drive into the city centre due to congestion charges and the recent creation of a low-emission zone in central London.
In 2013 and 2014, Planit Events sought planning permission to create a ballroom and events facility in the car park. That was blocked by the local authority, Islington Council, which is also the site’s freeholder.
In 2017, then-owner Hondo began drawing up plans for a retail and leisure scheme. Islington Council approved it in early 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic put paid to the idea, and Hondo has now sold to BL.