News International, advised by CBRE, has sold its 15.16 acre former headquarters in Wapping, East London, unconditionally to St George Plc, part of the Berkeley Group, for in the region of £150 million.
St George triumphed over stiff competition from a number of UK and overseas developers and investors to secure the site in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets without planning permission. St George plans to develop proposals for a high quality mixed use, residential led development, incorporating homes, offices, shops and public open spaces.
Now called Wapping Village, the site has been vacant for two years and is one of the largest mixed-use development opportunities in central London. It offers the chance to create a dynamic new residential-led quarter within zone 1 and includes circa 1.2 million sq ft of redundant buildings associated with the old print works and a cleared car park.
Ross Faragher, Managing Director of St George PLC, said: “We are delighted to have acquired Wapping Village. Working with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and the local communities we plan to create an exciting and attractive place to live and work, a new quarter in Wapping that will revitalise this important area of London.
“This is our first significant acquisition in Tower Hamlets for many years and St George is delighted to be investing in the borough again. We are looking forward to working with the borough, local communities and businesses on our plans for a high quality mixed use development.”
Tom Mockridge, Chief Executive of News International said: “Moving to Wapping was a pivotal moment in News International’s history as it led a pioneering development in newspaper production, and so today’s sale marks the end of an era for the company. Our move to Thomas More Square in 2010 has proven equally important; enabling NI to take the same industry-leading approach although this time with the digital revolution.
“The location of our newsrooms might change but News International’s position as a fixture on Britain’s media landscape will not. We are situated next to the Wapping site and look forward to the exciting redevelopment of the area by St George.”
Peter Burns, Executive Director, Central London, CBRE, said: “Wapping Village is the only development site of its calibre to be brought to market in recent years. It benefits from excellent transport links and is close to some of the world’s most famous landmarks, including Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. St George has a rare opportunity to create a brand new residential-led quarter on the doorstep of the City of London.”
News International’s decision to sell the site was the result of a strategic property review undertaken in the summer of 2011, which concluded that the site was no longer a necessary part of the company’s asset base.