A lot of developers are placing themselves under pressure to get schemes through the planning system and built in time for the 2012 Games, in particular those building hotels.
The London Development Agency has just gained consent for a five-storey, 131-room Travelodge hotel on the Royals Business Park to be built by Citigrove Securities by July 2012.
It is one of three hotels the LDA and development partner Development Securities are in talks with operators to build after deciding to remasterplan the key Newham site away from principally office orientated space to a more mixed-use park. Taking heed of the success of the neighbouring Excel convention centre they have decided to mix up the usage to add more hotels.
The hotel is envisaged as sitting on a new high street stretching past Newham council’s splendid but rather lonely looking offices. The LDA wants it to be ready for the Games because it “will be close to the Royal Docks’ Excel centre – where more medals will be handed out than at any other single Olympic venue”.
DevSec has similar aspirations up the road in Greenwich. It has just gained consent alongside partner Cathedral for a major mixed use development that includes a 30-bed boutique hotel and restaurant proposed behind the existing North Pole public house as well as a 3-star 104-bed hotel on Greenwich High Road.
I had an interesting chat with Cathedral chief executive Richard Upton last week about his views on how to reinvigorate and redevelop sites that have proved difficult in the past. Alongside DevSec, he has just bought a huge business park in Hayes that is famous for producing HMV’s vinyl records and he plans to re-energise it by emphasising what is already there. Any way I am digressing.
Upton wants the hotels ready for 2012 to capitalise on Greenwich’s close proximity to the action.
Elsewhere, Westfield, encouraged by its success in finding operators for two hotels at Stratford City, is I understand now proposing to squeeze in a third hotel.
Is there a touch of over-confidence in all this? It is clear that there are going to be a lot of people in town needing space in the months and weeks leading up to and during the Games, but what happens afterwards?
The answer is DevSec, Cathedral, Westfield and the LDA and many others are building in areas they have always believed in, Games or no Games. The 2012 Games is just a very helpful marketing and planning catalyst that any business would be mad not to try to take a piggyback ride on.