Young Planners Conference: Tour 2: The Crown Estate Regent Street Strategy

Hosted by CBRE.

Since 2002 the Crown Estates has invested £1 billion in the Regent Street Vision. Ian Rennie, Associate Director at CBRE, previously worked at Westminster Council and now leads CBRE’s planning services for the Crown Estate. Ian explained that the Crowne Estate is not a typical developer: it pays its profits to the Treasury, and as well as owning the freehold of almost all of Regent Street and St James, it also owns the seabed, much of the coastline, farmland and forests.

Walking south from RIBA, we paused by John Nash’s All Souls Church to take in Regent Street’s beautiful facades which curve to the south, following the grand street layout conceived in the 1800s. Next stop was the Apple Store, which illustrates the Vision’s central aim of reinvigorating Regent Street’s retail offer and creating an iconic international destination with a high quality public realm.

We got out of the crowds in New Burlington Place, a small oasis outside the Crowne Estates offices, where two projects known as W4 and W5 could be seen. Ian explained how the bold design of the redevelopments, which include high glass domes, had needed careful consideration. Throughout the investment programme, key issues for discussion with Westminster City Council and other stakeholders had included the external facades, as well as the interiors, of the redeveloped buildings, as well as the council’s aspiration to ensure residential floorspace was included in commercial redevelopments.

After visiting Heddon Street, where bars and cafes were buzzing with visitors, we arrived at the Quadrant just off Piccadilly Circus. This stunning £300m retail development aims to make the southern end of Regent Street more upmarket, in line with the northern end. The original cornerpieces of the former Regent Palace Hotel have been retained, along with the colourful clay tile facade. A massive Whole Foods store opens onto the newly pedestrianised Glasshouse Street, beneath office space and high end apartments. Finally, we visited Brasserie Zedal in the basement, where you can get three courses for £11 while enjoying the beautifully restored Art Deco furnishings – if you can get a booking.

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