Paternoster Square Park, The City of London
Written: February 1994 in London, UK.
- I work in the city of London.
- The City of London has 82 million square feet of office space in total. (10ft2=about 1m2).
- The City of London has about 18m ft2 vacant office space.
- The City of London has a poor quality of life and no atmosphere.
- Directors and senior management of companies have their own clubs and societies in the City where they can lunch and relax.
- There is a seven acre (300,000ft2) 1960's development that is vacant. It is right next to St. Paul's cathedral and is called Paternoster Square. There is planning permission to replace 500,000 ft2 of offices with 800,000ft2 of offices and 700,000 ft2 of shops. Planning permission took seven years to obtain as many people are against the scheme including Prince Charles. Planning permission was eventually given mainly for the wrong reasons (over £10m has been spent on plans so far). Paternoster Square is a concrete wasteland with almost no tenants there anymore.
- The project has been shelved for two continuous years due to office vacancy in London.
- Assume you owned the City of London.
- 20% of your office space is vacant.
- Average rents are £20/ft2 in the City.
- They peaked at £65/ft2 in the boom.
- At £20/ft2, the opportunity cost of not filling the buildings is £400m per annum.
- There are no shopping or leisure centres in the City.
- There are no hotels in the City.
- There are no public parks in the City.
- Marks and Spencer have been trying to build a big store in the City for years and cannot find space. They are currently building on the outskirts of the City on the South Bank of the Thames near Tower Bridge. The City of London is on the North side of the Thames.
- St. Paul's Cathedral used to attract 2.5m visitors per year. Since charging for entry visitors have dropped to around 1m per year. The same number of tourists visited London in 1993 as in 1989.
- 330,000 people work in the City.
- 200,000 people live nearby; 5,060 live in the City.
- The City of London needs a catalyst to attract people and business to the City.
- The catalyst could be a park with a two storey shopping and leisure complex underneath the park. The Stellenbosch library in South Africa was built under a park. A shopping centre is being built in Paris under a park.
- Finance for the project could be in many many ways, eg:
- A seven storey hotel and conference centre could be built on the North side of the park. The south side has St. Paul's Cathedral. The north side has a busy street. The building would separate the park from the street and achieve a secondary objective: keeping the noise from the street away from the park (this idea came from the planning office of the Corporation of London). The building would cost about £40m to build (assuming building costs of £130/ft2 in 1993) and valued at £65/ft2 would sell for £150m. Costs are my own and must be checked.
- An investment by a wealthy man who wants his name associated with the turn of the third millenium. eg: Bill Gates to invest $50m for the following reasons: 1) the park could be called the Bill Gates Park; 2) Microsoft would get an enormous amount of publicity; 3) tribute to one of the most prominent people in the 20th Century, who helped change the world radically from its pre-personal computing days.
- There would be a substantial return on investment in profits, capital appreciation and benefits.
- The Millenium Fund: funding the biggest new Millenium Celebration worldwide. A one year party in the City of London.
- Externalities: Suppose that a (new) commercial property agent led the project. This agent could invest in building around and near to the park, eg in options to buy or rent space at a certain rent, say £10/ft2. These buildings currently cannot be sold. Investment in 10m ft2 of vacant office space @ £10/ft2 may produce a steady income of £300m per annum.
- Government: Wealth creation and the political party's vision could win government support of £100m and or tax concessions for investors in the park.
- Other advantages are:
- An enormous amount of capital appreciation of property in the City of London.
- An enormous amount of prestige.
- Fame and fortune for the implementors.
- Provides a catalyst to get other developments going.
- Public relations.
- For those of us who work in, live in or visit the City of London: an increase in the standard of living and quality of life; potential accommodation in the City of London; the greening of London. The fulfilment of Christopher Wren's vision of St Paul's set in a park.
- Free admission to St. Paul's: the tourist entrance could be via the shopping centre and the St. Paul's crypt.
- £16m needs to be spent on restoring St. Paul's. The money could be available as part of the project
- St. Paul's tube station would be redeveloped and modernised
- Bart's hospital, the City of London hospital, would be kept open with its existing units which specialise in executive disease, eg: day surgery, accident and emergency, cardiology, oncology, neurology & neurosurgery; plastic surgery and paediatrics.
- The City would get a valuable resource that could never be taken away from it.
Please help if you can. Write to:
The Prince of Wales, St. James's Palace, London, SW1A 1BS: Title=Your Royal Highness.
Mr Tony Blair, 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA: Title: Dear Mr Blair. (Updated)
The Secretary, The Royal Fine Art Commission, 7 St. James's Square, London, SW1Y 4JU: advises the government and organisations on projects effecting the people of the UK.
The Very Rev. The Dean of St. Paul's, 9 Amen Court, London, EC4M 7BU.
Your MP: The House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.
is the owner and managing director of
Orbital Decisions®, an IT and IS
consultancy in Cape Town, South Africa. He holds a Computer Science degree from
the University of Cape Town (South Africa),
a Computer Science Honours degree from Rhodes University in Grahamstown (South Africa),
an MBA from Cranfield University (UK) and a Textile Diploma from
the Cape Town Technicon (South Africa).