Towering Ambition: The Property Developer Set to Change South London’s Skyline

Barry Jenkins has worked in the UK property industry for over 30 years and as a property developer has wide range of experience delivering developments for both the private and public sectors including commercial, health, education, defence, industrial, retail and residential.

But the project that he may be best remembered for is only just starting.

Barry is a co-founder and director of Croydon developer Guildhouse Roseprice which in 2005 began buying up several parcels of land opposite the site of the planned £1.4 billion Westfield Shopping centre with a vision to build one of Europe’s tallest mixed-use towers.

Tower takeaway

  • One Lansdowne will be London’s second tallest mixed-use tower beaten only by The Shard.
  • Property developer Barry is spearheading a £500m construction project that’s part of a  £5bn revival of Croydon.
  • The project, and much of the town’s regeneration, hinges on the the new Westfield Shopping Centre.

That vision is to turn into steel very soon. After demolition work on existing buildings finishes next summer, the £500m One Lansdowne Road is due for completion in five years’ time.

It will include residential, commercial and leisure facilities within two towers, one of which will be 236 metres high, linked by a central ‘podium’ development. The tallest tower will be higher than anything in Canary Wharf and eclipsed by only The Shard.

What about the homes?

The residential portion will include 125 studios, 318 one-bedroom apartments, 279 two-bedroom units, 64 three-bedroom units and eight four-bedroom apartments with 21 per cent earmarked as affordable homes.

The huge edifice Barry has planning consent for will radically change the skyline of Croydon and play a significant part in its regeneration, the company claims, sitting between East and West Croydon railway stations and over the road from the planned Westfield shopping centre.

It will also feature an unusual partnership. The development is to be built by Chinese high-rise construction firm China Building Technique Group Company.

Guildhouse Roseprice claims Croydon is in the middle of a ‘once in a lifetime’ regeneration programme and that One Lansdowne Road is part of a transformative, £5 billion cash injection into the town.

How long has Guildhouse Roseprice been around?

“We’ve a property developer for nearly 30 years both in Croydon and further afield and we’ve been involved in the town for over a decade including assembling the site for the One Lansdowne development.

“We had previous planning consent for the site in 2012 which we have partly implemented recently to preserve it because it expired last March. But we then got new planning consent in November last year [for a higher tower] which we are now looking to get going on.

“The idea is that the council are making Lansdowne Road, which connects from the A212 to East Croydon railway station, into a pedestrian priority route. People will be able to cross the very busy Wellesley Road (A212) via a 24-hour pedestrian priority crossing that will link East and West Croydon back together after decades being bisected by a main road.

“The details of exactly how it will work aren’t clear quite yet, but I know Croydon Council are desperate to join the two halves of central Croydon back together again.”

The Westfield shopping centre is central to your development’s success but are you confident it’s really going to get built?

“Yes. Westfield is a joint venture called the Croydon Partnership which is between Westfield and Hammerson [that famously built Brent Cross shopping centre during the 1970s and more recently the Bullring in Birmingham] but I think Hammerson have had their nose put out of joint a bit because everyone refers to Westfield in Croydon without mentioning them.

“Hammerson have endured a few financial difficulties recently and they put their redevelopment of Brent Cross on hold. But they have confirmed that Westfield in Croydon will still proceed.

“Also, remember that Westfield have sold out to the French company Unibail-Rodamco which has no other interests in the UK other than through the Westfield shopping centres, so we are reassured that they too are keen to proceed in Croydon. John Lewis confirmed last year that they had signed up to become an anchor tenant at Westfield, as did Marks & Spencer.

“Obviously one of our concerns is over the current problems within the retail sector including House of Fraser, BHS and Debenhams. But Westfield is much more of a shopping experience than a traditional centre and will include cinemas and restaurants. You won’t go there just to shop.

As a property developer, do you think Croydon is too dependent on Westfield for its regeneration?

“There is a massive amount of regeneration going on elsewhere in Croydon including the refurbishment of Fairfield Halls and Croydon College next door plus the recent opening of the Boxpark eating gallery next to East Croydon station.

“And a lot of government departments are relocating down to Croydon from central London because commercial rents in Croydon are so much cheaper here and remember Victoria is only 15 minutes away by.”

How much cheaper is Croydon than other parts of London?

“In Croydon it’s about £700 per sq ft whereas in places closer to central London you’re looking at between £1,000 and £1,500 per sq. ft. so the gap is huge really.

“It’s much more affordable for people to buy in Croydon. Well over half our units will be below the £600,000 Help to Buy threshold and the first-time buyer Stamp Duty tax break helps too.

“They may be only small things but they make home ownership much more affordable. We’ve seen a lot of Private Rented Sector operators sniffing around Croydon because they can see lots of potential for both rent and asset price growth, which is the magic formula they look for. ”

Have you been watching Redrow’s Morello development going up next to East Croydon station; have you been heartened by its performance?

“Despite being on – literally – the wrong side of the tracks it has performed very well, and I believe it’s all been sold now. They’ve been given planning consent for two additional 25 storey towers that they are progressing. It all part of the larger regeneration picture. ”

Why were you attracted to Croydon in the first place?

“Its amazing transport links are what marks Croydon out from other parts of London. They’re so good that, at One Lansdowne, although we’ve got nearly 800 apartments, its only got 70-odd parking spaces and they will only for blue badge holders.

“The idea is that the transport links are so good in and out of Croydon it will be like living next a tube station rather than a railway station. There are so many trains that you can just rock up and take the next available service to central London. And anyway, it’s such a pain owning a car in London, why would you need or want one? My older son lives in London and he doesn’t.”

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