The builder behind one of the most ambitious and ambitious home projects in history, Balfours Beatty, will soon be able to put the finishing touches on a home he hopes will be the most expensive home in the UK to be built on public land.
The project, dubbed the London-based Beatty Group, is one of many ambitious projects that the builders hope will put the UK on a path to be one of only three nations with a built-out urban core, a world-class urban plan and a high standard of public transport.
But while some of these ambitious projects have seen construction start in earnest in recent years, the Beatty project will be unique because of its scope.
The Beatty group is building the first phase of its £40bn (€52bn) scheme, known as the London to Balfords Beatty route, on land owned by the Crown Estate, the British government agency that owns and manages the vast swathes of land around the capital, including many of the city’s public transport networks.
The first phase is expected to open by 2021 and will involve about 30 miles of land on the edge of the capital.
The site has been a favoured location for building projects in the past, but this is the first time the Beatties have managed to build on it.
It is a rare instance of a government-owned land parcel being used to construct a large, publicly owned public space, and is one that could make the UK one of just a few cities to be able build public transport infrastructure on such a scale, says Paul Brink, chief executive of Balfools Beatty.
“It’s a massive piece of land that’s really well-suited for public transport, so the fact that we can use this for the development of this is absolutely amazing,” he says.
“We are confident that this will transform the way we design and develop urban infrastructure around London, and will make the city one of our most attractive cities to live in.”
The Beaties Beatty site has previously been used for private housing, but the Beaties plans are much larger than that, with a total of about 5,000 homes, a railway station and other public spaces planned, with most of the land set aside for private development.
It will also include a “super highway” that will run north-south across the city, with trains regularly stopping at stations to allow people to take public transport to their homes.
The beatty group has been able to secure this land because of a loophole in planning laws, which allows private developers to apply to buy land for public use without paying a property tax.
This loophole has been exploited by several developers, many of which have gone bankrupt, but has also allowed some public land parcels to be turned into privately-owned developments, which has helped keep some of London’s most popular residential and commercial areas in use.
This year the Beatys Beatty plan has attracted about $2bn (£1.5bn) of public money, with the rest of the money going to private developers.
The property developer, Cushman & Murray, will be building the 1.8-mile (2.8km) route, which will be built in phases, from its current site at the junction of the Bishopsgate and Lambeth roads in central London, which it bought from the British state in 2012.
The route will be a major project for Cushmans.
Its owner, CMC Partners, owns a number of large residential developments, including the Hyde Park development on the outskirts of London, the Canary Wharf development and the Royal Botanic Gardens in Greenwich.
“Cushmans has a very strong interest in the area, and has invested billions of pounds in the development area, which includes the site we have purchased,” says John Collins, a partner with Cushmen.
“That has meant a strong public transport network and the opportunity to develop an urban core.”
The site is also well-connected to London’s transport network, and the route will enable Cushmann to provide a very high standard service on the routes, which is essential for CMC to build and maintain its long-term network.
“The beaty project is not the first to be developed in the city since the government was given control of its public assets.
In 2014, the government sold the rights to the Crown land it owns in the west of the UK, including parts of central London.
However, the sale of the Crown property in central Newham was not a major part of the Beatities Beatty plans, and a key reason why it is not being built is that the Crown’s ownership of the property was transferred to CMC.
The Crown Estate owns part of central Newkirk, which was also bought from CMC in 2014, and so the Beatites Beatty would be part of its future estate, but its land is not included