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Could Mayfair Be Getting A New £500M Office Development From The Sultan Of Brunei?

Lansdowne House on Berkeley Square

A major obstacle has been overcome, which could allow for the redevelopment of one of London’s best-located office buildings into a new £500M+ scheme.

Last year Lansdowne House on Berkeley Square won exemption from listing by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport after a recommendation by Historic England, the body that advises the government on what should and should not be listed.

That means its owner, the Sultan of Brunei, is free to pursue a redevelopment of the building, something that has long been disallowed.

Lansdowne House has one of the best locations in London, occupying the entire south side of one of the capital’s priciest squares.

At 186K SF it is one of the larger buildings in the West End, where the historic nature of the area makes the development of new large-scale offices incredibly difficult — tall buildings are generally not permitted and the area is made up of a large number of smaller buildings.

But the architecture and makeup of Lansdowne House prevent it from maximising the fact that it is a rare big building in the purple zone of London’s Monopoly board. Details of unleased floors show that space is available there for as little as £25/SF in an area where rents can frequently touch £100/SF.

And an enormous but generally dark central atrium takes up a lot of space in the building.

Cushman & Wakefield data shows that capital values in Mayfair can be between £2,500/SF and £3K/SF, meaning that a new build office of the same size when fully let at market rents could be worth between £465M and £560M.

The Brunei Investment Authority bought the building in the 1990s for an undisclosed amount.

The building's site was once the gardens of a house built in the 18th century for aristocrat Lord Bute, who became Prime Minister after teaching the prince who became George III.

The current building was built by Legal & General and completed in 1988, designed by Chapman Taylor in the post-modern style. There was some uproar around its construction.

“Despite the controversy surrounding the site’s development, the critical reception of Lansdowne House once completed was muted,” Historic England said when assessing if the building should be listed. “There is little to suggest it was an influential design in the development of post-modernism in Britain or, more generally, late twentieth century commercial architecture.”

The Brunei Investment Authority declined to comment.