Sugar House Island secures dual use consent, following growth in education occupiers in Stratford 

Vastint UK has secured dual use consent for two new Cat A office buildings within its 26-acre mixed-use neighbourhood, Sugar House Island, in Stratford.

The dual use approval allows higher education providers as well as commercial businesses to operate from the buildings.

The planning consent reflects the growing demand for space in Stratford amongst the education sector, with education accounting for 69% of the total take-up of space in the area last year, up from 21% in 2021*. This is expected to accelerate further in 2024, fuelled by the recent opening of UCL East at the nearby East Bank development.

Michael Cronin, Head of Portfolio at Vastint UK, the developer behind Sugar House Island, said, “Sugar House Island is a 15-year masterplan project for Vastint. Given the length of the development programme, having dual use consent on two of our largest office buildings in the neighbourhood means we can allow for the flexibility required to respond to market demands and the needs of the businesses within our community. Moreover, an integrated education and business community grants the influx of innovative and creative industries coming to Stratford access to their target talent pool.”

The buildings that have been awarded dual use consent are located within Chimney Walk, Sugar House Island’s fourth and latest phase of development which completed this February.

Chimney Walk comprises 220,000 sq ft of education and office commercial space, 23,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space for independent brands. The pedestrianised public realm will act as a stage for the growth of the Island’s already popular events programme, which features food pop ups, comedy nights, music events and more.

The first three phases of development for Sugar House Island have already completed, including over 380 new homes, a new primary school, and the creative quarter, Dane’s Yard, which is 90% occupied by creative and innovative businesses and amenities. Publisher Phaidon, which moved to Sugar House Island from Kings Cross in 2020 and gin distillery and bar Jim & Tonic, are amongst the Island’s current business residents. In 2022, East London Dance and music organisation UD launched The Talent House at Sugar House Island; the UK’s first national talent house for urban culture.

With six student accommodation schemes located within a 20-minute walk, and a growing education hub on its doorstep, Chimney Walk is perfectly located for universities looking to join the wave of higher education institutions taking root in Stratford.

The Island is a 5-minute walk from Pudding Mill Lane station, which is just one stop from Stratford station, the sixth busiest railway station in the UK, served by the London Underground including the Elizabeth line, London Overground, DLR and National Rail. Nearby Stratford High Street Station is just 13 minutes from London City airport, making Chimney Walk accessible by local, national, and international visitors. The latter is increasingly important to educational providers who are seeing an uptick in numbers of international students*.

Holly Purvis, Director in the Greater London and South East Office Agency team at Savills, said, “There has been a notable acceleration in office leasing activity from education providers in Greater London since 2020, with these occupiers seeking larger quantities of space for longer lease terms compared with other sectors. Chimney Walk is a rare speculative opportunity for educational providers, being self-contained with excellent ESG credentials and access to amenities and public transport. We have received high levels of interest from the educational sector which we expect to continue.”

Savills and Compton are the leasing agents on the office buildings.