Westfield in talks to sell major Olympics office site

By Paul Norman - Thursday, December 08, 2011 15:20

Australian shopping centre giant Westfield is in talks to sell a major office development site at the 2012 Olympic Park in Stratford to listed student accommodation provider Unite, CoStar News can reveal.

The 0.7-acre site has outline consent for 300,000 sq ft of offices and forms part of the 40-acre Stratford City zone 1 land that Westfield bought from London & Continental Railways for around £40m.

It sits immediately to the east of Westfield’s £1.45bn Stratford City shopping centre.

Following negotiations with Westfield, Unite has lodged plans for an alternative use development comprising a 950-bed student accommodation tower complex ranging in height from 12 to 25 storeys and providing 891-single study bedrooms and 60 studios with ancillary communal and office areas.

The scheme has been recommended for approval by the Olympic Delivery Authority’s planning committee, which has overall planning control for the site.

The ODA is scheduled to finally decide on the application this coming Tuesday. Subject to planning approval Unite has reached agreement to buy the site from Westfield.

The scheme fits neatly with Unite’s preferred strategy for development, being both close to a major transport interchange – Stratford International - and to a leading educational facility.

The University of East London and Birkbeck College both have significant presences in the area and University College London is also proposing a major campus in the nearby Carpenter’s Estate.

The deal also significantly reduces Westfield’s exposure to office development at the site. It has consent for 1.1m sq ft of offices at Stratford City zone 1 as well as a further 1,200 homes.

Westfield has already built 128,000 sq ft of offices at One Stratford Place and has begun to let up the building with Coral Bookmakers taking 30,793 sq ft of offices at One Stratford Place in November (as revealed by CoStar News last month).

However, Australian rival Lend Lease is also proposing 4m sq ft of office development nearby at its International Quarter development.

At a council meeting on 15 November, Newham council formally objected to Unite’s proposals on the grounds that the location and quantum of the development is unacceptable and the design quality of the development is unacceptable.

pnorman@costar.co.uk

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