Crown estate to press ahead with West End development

The Crown Estate has decided to go ahead with a £100 million development in the St James’s area of London’s West End, part of a wider investment programme in the area.

Crown estate to press ahead with West End development
The Crown Estate – the independent commercial operation that manages land and holdings belonging to the British monarch – has decided to go ahead with a £100 million development in London's West End.

Redevelopment on hold following Brexit uncertainty

The retail and office redevelopment of Duke's Court in St James's, which is part of a wider £500 million investment programme in the area, had been put on hold in the wake of the uncertainty caused by the UK's vote to leave the European Union in June's referendum. However, on Wednesday it was announced that the scheme would now go ahead with Skanska heading the project, which is now due for completion in the spring of 2019.

St James's to be a "world-class destination"

James Cooksey, director of central London at the Crown Estate, said, "We're committed to re-establishing St James's as a world-class business and lifestyle destination. "Such an investment reflects our belief in the fundamentals of London's West End, notwithstanding the near-term market outlook, and its continued performance over the long term through creating fantastic buildings that stand the test of time." 

RICS house price forecast

Meanwhile, the latest report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) forecasts that UK house prices will continue rising in 2017 but that growth will slow to three per cent – about half the rate recorded in 2016. 

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RICS also said that the continuing shortage of homes on the market would see the number of transactions next year to between 1.15-1.2 million, compared to an estimated 1.25 million in 2016.Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said, "Although recent announcements by the government on housing are very welcome, the ongoing shortfall of stock across much of the sales and lettings markets is set to continue to underpin prices and rents. As a result, the affordability challenge will remain very much to the fore for many." RICS members believe that East Anglia, the North West and West Midlands will see price gains above the national average next year, while Central London – where record high prices slumped this year – will "stabilise" in 2017 because of an expected increase in foreign buyers taking advantage of the fall in the value of sterling. 

A small gain likely during 2017

On Tuesday, a report from Nationwide Building Society predicted a rise of about two per cent next year, primarily because demand will continue to exceed supply.Robert Gardner, the society's chief economist, said, "We continue to think a small gain is more likely than a decline over 2017 as a whole, since low interest rates are expected to help underpin demand while a shortage of homes on the market will continue to provide support."

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