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Waterloo: Delays Expected As Reavis Rethinks Elizabeth House

London Office

Twenty-one years and counting — progress on redeveloping Elizabeth House, York Road SE1, has hardly been electric. All efforts to demolish and replace the South Bank block have so far come to nothing.

Now Elizabeth House's new owner, Slovak developer HB Reavis, has announced a rethink of the £1.3B scheme, the sixth in the scheme's long history.

Elizabeth House

The announcement comes five months after May’s £250M purchase of the South Bank site, and more than 13 years after the last efforts to redevelop the former Department of Education offices began. It is now 21 years since the first planning application was approved.

The site next to Waterloo station, rebranded One Waterloo by its former owners, is one of the most prominent office development sites on London’s South Bank.

The Elizabeth House site is HB Reavis' fourth and largest major investment into London. Development Director Kiran Pawar said: “Having recently finalised the purchase we will take some time to properly assess the current consent and will be appointing a design partner to support this process.”

Reavis has approached David Chipperfield, which designed the scheme it inherited from vendors London & Regional/Chelsfield. The Chipperfield/SOM scheme had permission for 1.4M SF, including 753K SF of offices and 142 apartments in towers of 29, 14 and 11 storeys. Reavis is reportedly talking to a panel of other leading architectural names.

“We intend to be part of the Waterloo community for years to come and we greatly look forward to making a hugely positive contribution to the local area,” Pawar said.

York Road, London SE1, showing Elizabeth House on the right

“This is a complicated site — the underground lines beneath it make it technically challenging, and that has shaped current and future plans,” CBRE Senior Director Alastair Perks said. CBRE has been a long-term advisor on the site and acted for the vendors in this year’s sale.

Reavis will be comforted by income from the existing 250K SF block, which is let on rents up to £30/SF and is almost fully occupied. This is a testament to a powerful South Bank office market, one galvanised by Apple's decision to occupy 468K SF at Battersea Power Station.

According to research from South Bank office specialist Union Street Partners, the area’s office market has picked up speed, with Q2 take-up of 582K SF. This compares to a long-term quarterly average of 286K SF caused by larger space users moving into the area. Q3 turnover was up 10% following a further 34.5K SF letting to international certification body DNV GL at Hermes/Canadian Pension Plan's South Bank Central.