Businesses in the historic home of journalism write the Fleet Street Quarter’s next chapter

Businesses in the historic home of journalism write the Fleet Street Quarter’s next chapter

New vision launched to create a greener, more welcoming area as London gears up for recovery

A partnership representing businesses across Fleet Street and its environs has launched an ambitious blueprint for enhancing public spaces and making the area more welcoming, accessible, and greener.

Once the bustling hub of the UK’s print journalism industry, teeming with hundreds of reporters, thriving pubs and a wider ‘eco system’ of businesses, the departure of the newspapers over 20 years ago had a dramatic impact on the area now known as the Fleet Street Quarter, leading to the closure of many shops, cafes and bars and a period of decline for the area. Although still one of London’s most recognisable locations, today the Fleet Street Quarter lacks vibrancy and relevance to visitors and workers alike.

Fast forward to now, and much is changing. With new businesses investing and relocating and an office development pipeline on a scale rivalling Kings Cross, the local business community has been motivated to work together to act as custodians and champions of the evolving Fleet Street Quarter. The new Area Based Strategy published today is a cornerstone of the Partnership’s plans, which places the increasingly important ESG ‘environmental, social and governance’ agenda at the centre of its ambitions. Recommendations include pavement widening, new green space creation, additional cycle routes, cultural activities and events to drive footfall and dwell time, tree planting, improved lighting and better signage.

The Partnership was established in 2019 and locally based businesses including Deloitte, Farebrother, Charles Russell Speechlys and property owners such as Landsec are part of the collective. The Partnership will shortly be balloting eligible local businesses on the establishment of a Business Improvement District (BID), which will secure the delivery of its plans. The ambition is to bolster the Fleet Street Quarter’s economic and environmental resilience, creating a desirable and robust global destination. A future Fleet Street Quarter BID will bolster the valuable historic character and identity of the area, while also creating a new narrative for the well-known location fit for the 21st century.

The Area Based Strategy was developed by Publica working closely with the Fleet Street Quarter Partnership and representatives from the City of London Corporation. It sets out a clear plan for prioritising investment in public realm projects and curating activities to enhance the area’s character, and crucially, what role the private sector can play in delivery. Long term, transformational projects are recommended, alongside medium and short-term enhancements, with the emphasis on the projects being implementable and able to deliver tangible improvements to the street scape and visitor experience across the area.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fleet Street Quarter is set to see significant growth due to the ongoing development pipeline. Across the area there is between 2.5 – 3 million sq ft of office space in the pipeline, comparable to major regeneration locations such as King’s Cross and Victoria. While some working practices are likely to stay permanently changed as we learn to live with COVID, there is growing confidence among businesses about the future and all indications suggest a recovery boom in the coming months. Whilst this presents substantial opportunity for the area, it also poses significant challenges including issues such as traffic congestion, increased air pollution and the potential over-crowding of public realm.

Ensuring London can attract the world’s best talent, and in time, domestic and international leisure visitors and business travellers must be a top priority. The quality of the capital’s public spaces and enhancing the visitor experience as people move through the City will become more important than ever. With the opening of the Elizabeth Line this year to add to the Thameslink line, the Fleet Street Quarter will draw in an exciting new generation of daily occupiers and visitors from the north, south, east and west of the country.

Launching the publication, Chair of the Fleet Street Partnership, Alistair Subba Row said:

We believe that public spaces play a vital role in strengthening our societies and should be designed to function with people and their wellbeing at their very heart – as we face the all-important recovery this is more crucial than ever. We are committed to translating a commitment to the ESG agenda into tangible action. From re-energising iconic locations like Fleet Street and Chancery Lane and adding more green space, to providing workers and visitors with compelling reasons to visit and even more reasons to stay, I am confident that the Fleet Street Quarter’s next chapter is set to be its most exciting.   

“We know our vision is ambitious, but it’s achievable. With its unique role and mandate, the Fleet Street Quarter Partnership, which is on course to become one of the UK’s leading BIDs, can pull the right people together from across the public and private sectors to get these bold projects moving. I am eager to secure a successful BID ballot outcome in February, which will be the green light for our ambitious business plan, including our area-wide vision.”

Public realm improvements will create an inviting, varied, and attractive network of neighbourhood streets and open spaces that will soften the character of the area and provide spaces to dwell and attractive pedestrian routes. Activation through creative and cultural activities will bring life back into the area and attract visitors from beyond the area. Four key strategies have been identified in the Area Based Strategy:

 

  1. Celebrate Fleet Street Quarter’s diverse character areas
  2. Connect to surrounding areas
  3. Encourage activation
  4. Deliver public realm strategies

 

Carter Lane – good illustration of the potential for an enhanced night-time economy and ambitions for a 24/7 destination

Gough Square / Fleet Street lanes – re-imagining the iconic squares that the area is well known for

Fleet Street / Ludgate Hill – major transformation of the well-known street

The Area Based Strategy has been developed through dialogue with the City of London Corporation and led by the local business community through the Fleet Street Quarter’s Public Realm Steering Group. It supports the City Corporation’s vision for the Square Mile and delivery of projects will be a collaborative effort between the City Corporation, other statutory partners and the private sector. The vision is subject to further consultation, permissions and funding but aims to provide a framework for future projects, some of which could be led by the private sector.

Martha Grekos, Chair of the Fleet Street Quarter Partnership’s Public Realm Steering Group, said:

“I am proud of what has been achieved by the Public Realm Steering group, working with Publica and the City Corporation. It’s been a great team effort and I want to thank my colleagues and peers who have worked together to produce this ambitious blueprint for the Fleet Street Quarter. As stewards of change we want to harness growth and opportunities to breathe new life into the area. Our aim is to create a vibrant, resilient, inclusive, green and sustainable district through modern placemaking, and this publication is an important marker on this journey.”

 

The proposed Fleet Street Quarter BID, which goes to ballot on 18th January, will have the mandate and the resources to drive this agenda on behalf of the private sector. With an income of more than £12 million over a five-year period, invested by the local business community, a future Fleet Street Quarter BID will be in a strong position to drive an ambitious programme of enhancement, curation and evolution benefitting the whole area and its communities of workers, residents, and visitors.


New offices at Holborn Viaduct consented

An office-led development on Holborn Viaduct has been given the green light by the City of London Corporation. The scheme sits across two levels on Holborn Viaduct and Farringdon Street. The scheme will stand 10 floors tall on Holborn Viaduct and 12 floors on Farringdon Street.

 

Developed by Royal London Asset Management, it is targeting Breeam Outstanding and will provide almost 36,000sq m of office floorspace. It also includes the grade II south-eastern Gatehouse – one of four standing either side of the Holborn Viaduct bridge. A new lift is also planned to carry people from Farringdon Street up to the bridge. At present, the only way to get up to the top from the street is via the steps in the gatehouses. The development includes 499 long-stay and 34 short-stay cycle parking spaces. There will also be cargo-bike parking facilities and a “wellness hub” with lockers and showers for office occupiers.

 

Martha Grekos, Chair of the Public Realm and Environment Group, said: “The current buildings – Kimberley House, Meridian House and 32 Farringdon Street – offer an unremarkable and uninspiring aesthetic to the area, with outdated façades, narrow and constrained floorplates and a lack of permeability. Although Fleet Street acts as the geographical spine for our Partnership, the Fleet Street Quarter embraces a much wider area, with Holborn Viaduct acting as our northern boundary and thus a key gateway moment to the wider Quarter. The redevelopment of the three buildings proposes some instrumental improvements to the public realm, through the animation of the streets by introducing active frontages on both Holborn Viaduct and Farringdon Street and increased permeability. The new public spaces, joined by a lift, creating a new step free link between Holborn Viaduct and Farringdon Street, is particularly welcomed, creating an inclusive space.

 

The current Fleet Street Quarter lacks open and green spaces that promotes dwell opportunities. The new streetscape of the proposed redevelopment provides greening with planters and trees that enhances the quality and usability of public realm, creating a better micro-climate and reducing the urban heat island effect. Green infrastructure can improve air quality by providing barriers to sources of pollution such as busy roads and in turn counteracts the urban heat island effect. Rising evidence also suggests that investment into green infrastructure can in turn provide tangible benefits to local occupiers. In the short-term, co-benefits of greening will create pleasant spaces that encourages people to stay longer and engage more with their surroundings. This not only is a positive thing for the local area but adds to the vibrancy and character of the Quarter boosting peoples’ wellbeing. The planters integrate bench seating, providing places for the public to stay and enjoy.

 

We recognise that existing commercial buildings, built by previous generations, often cannot meet the environmental or operational standards required by modern users, and believe when redevelopment is necessary, developers should seek to deliver the highest quality proposal, deploying the principles of the Circular Economy to ensure maximum benefit to the City. At a time of great focus on sustainable development, it is right that the developer seeks to achieve BREEAM Outstanding and has designed a building that is capable of adaption to respond to major changes of uses over its lifetime. These are impressive targets, befitting a city which places extreme importance on climate action. The proposals for the wider public realm, including planting in Farringdon Street and the provision of publicly accessible cycle parking, will ensure those visiting the wider area benefit from the improvements delivered by this scheme.

 

A thorough and attentive cultural audit has been undertaken for the development, offering a cultural strategy that will broaden the use of the building. The cultural strategy for the development invites a varied demographic to make use and visit the space, contrasting to the heavily corporate environs in the surrounding area. The developers are committed to a series of external public art that will run during the development stages and beyond. Proposed external public digital art screens provide the opportunity to showcase art pieces in a 24/7 capacity, making visual connections and conceptual connections across the site. It is also noted that the developers will be looking to work with the Museum of London, that can create an organic link between the Fleet Street Quarter area and the Culture Mile. The cultural strategy not only considers local perspective but also seeks the ambition of the global stage through acknowledgment of the Mayor’s London Plan (2021).

Whilst the scheme will primarily look to appeal to it building occupiers, there is consideration for the building responding to a wider audience that can be interacted with and used beyond ‘working’ hours. Fleet Street Quarter is supportive of the development of Holborn Viaduct. We believe the introduction of a new, highly sustainable, flexible office building will both drive the economic vitality of the City as well as deliver tangible benefits for the local area through the provision of public realm and accessibility improvements, new public art and a cultural strategy, and extensive greening and planting – aligning with the ambitions of the Partnership and its members.”


Fleet Street Quarter Spotlight: After Work Drinks

Thinking of heading out for drinks after work? Grab a couple of work pals and head to these local spots in the Fleet Street Quarter!

 

Sabine Rooftop Bar

With panoramic views of London, this garden bar is an oasis within the City offering calm away from the hustle and bustle. They offer spectacular cocktails on both an outside terrace and in their conservatory.

 

The Rising Sun

Nestled within the winding alleyways of Carter Lane, The Rising Sun is a proper old-fashioned London pub situated in a Grade II listed 19th Century building. Try their award winning Guinness!

 

Fleets

Located in the shadow of St. Paul’s, Fleet’s offer a wide selection of craft beers, wines and some of London’s best cocktails. Plus if you’re hungry after a long day at the office, their dining menu will not disappoint!

 

The Pregnant Man

The brainchild of Saatchi & Saatchi advertisers, it is named after one of their most famous campaigns. The Pregnant Man was conceived as the perfect place to unwind, relax, and have a good time!

 

Editor’s Tap

Perfect to watch the game after work, Editor’s Tap boasts HD screens with BT Sport and Sky Sports access. They have a wide range of drinks to suit all tastes and offer small plates, pizza, and burgers. They also have a DJ night every Thursday 18:00-23:00!


Christmas in the City

Christmas in the City map

Festive fun in the City of London

From magical lanterns to recycled Christmas trees, there’s lots to see and do in the City this Christmas! Enjoy mulled wine, mince pies and shopping all against a backdrop of iconic sights. Plan your visit now with our Christmas in the City map.

Getting Festive in Fleet Street Quarter

St Bride’s Church: The beautiful St Bride’s Church was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and its spire is said to be the inspiration for the tiered wedding cake that we know today! Head to the church to enjoy carols each Sunday from 5 December.

Apex Temple Court Hotel London: Looking for the perfect spot for your office Christmas party? Apex Temple Court Hotel is available for festive soirees, including private dining and drinks receptions.

Carter Lane: Head down to cosy Carter Lane for drinks and nibbles. The Rising Sun is a snug, old-fashioned hunt with a fireplace and beer on tap; while Epic Pies offers warming lunches and dinners and can host your Christmas party.

Christmas Cheer in Cheapside

Borealis at Guildhall Yard: Borealis by Dan Acher offers a mesmerising must-see moment of awe and wonder, lighting up the heart of the City of London.

This spectacular immersive installation, inspired by the Northern Lights, will light up the skies over Guildhall Yard. Businesses in the area are offering a range of Borealis deals to celebrate the event. Head to https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/events/borealis for details!

The Royal Exchange and One New Change: Shop ‘til you drop at two of the City’s best shopping centres. The Royal Exchange is one of London’s grandest and most iconic buildings for luxury shopping and all-day dining. Down the road, One New Change boasts 60 stores (including a new Zara!), several restaurants and a public roof terrace with views of St Paul’s Cathedral.

St Mary-le-Bow: Make your way to the historic home of the Bow bells. In the courtyard, you’ll find the Cheapside BA Christmas tree.

Bloomberg Arcade: After you’ve worked up an appetite Christmas shopping, head to Bloomberg Arcade and take your pick from nine independent restaurants serving up culinary delights in the heart of the City.

All the festive feels in Aldgate

Aldgate in Winter and Petticoat Lane: The brilliant winter festival returns for its fifth year, bringing with it a lantern parade, winter market, performances, creative workshops and more. A two-week exhibition of lanterns is currently illuminating the high streets and local windows in a vibrant community-created display.

Aldgate Square: Make sure you take a stroll through bustling Aldgate Square, where you’ll find this year’s Aldgate Christmas tree.

Eat, drink and be merry in the Eastern City

Leadenhall Market: The iconic Victorian splendour of the City of London’s Leadenhall Market is sparkling with light thanks to its giant Christmas tree, decorations and beautiful garlands.

Head to the Market for a fun filled festive evening of late-night shopping and Christmas workshops – from wreathmaking to whisky tasting – with Leadenhall Market’s talented tenants follows on Wednesday 8 December.

Sky Garden: View the Christmas lights of London from above at the beautiful Sky Garden. Whether you are looking for sit down meals or to enjoy drinks and dancing this festive season, there are plenty of ways to celebrate. Head to the website to book your visit: skygarden.london.

Pan Pacific: Put down your shopping bags and indulge in the Festivi-tea at Pan Pacific London: featuring traditional sandwiches, turkey sausage rolls and cranberry scones as well as a selection of hand-made patisseries. Book now and enjoy. Panpacific.com


120 Fleet Street office development gets planning approval

The City Corporation’s planning and transportation committee supported the plans by CO-RE for a new 21-storey office development at the former Daily Express building on Fleet Street which will transform this building into a place for social and educational outreach, opening it up as a free landscaped public roof garden. The scheme will provide enhanced pedestrian accessibility, pavement widening and more space for tree planting. It will also deliver improved ground floor retail floorspace in the Fleet Street Principal Shopping Centre.

 

Martha Grekos, Chair of Public Realm and Environment Group of FSQ, said: “120 Fleet Street demonstrates a commitment to substantial improvements to the public spaces around and within River Court and the Daily Express building, with a new publicly accessible open arcade being created that connects Fleet Street and Shoe Lane. Together with the open arcade, the new active frontages of the building will enhance the pedestrian experience and permeability of the site. Fleet Street by planning definition is considered a ‘Principal Shopping Centre (PSC)’, however, results from out recent perception analysis survey indicated that the offering in the area is somewhat limited and lack variation (this has only been heightened by the pandemic ;leaving behind a casualty of empty units). The increased permeability through the site provides additional frontage for retail area that, in turn, activates the ground-floor and enhances the pedestrian experience, a catalyst for the revitalisation of Fleet Street and the wider neighbourhood. The proposed scheme stimulates opportunity to create a more mixed-use area, accepting that the public realm and buildings must adapt to post-Covid-19 economic and social trends.

 

While the FSQ area is rich with intimate and historic networks of streets, lanes, and enclaves, there is a remarkable deficiency of greenery and green spaces with few places to sit and dwell, and no key ‘anchor’ public space. We very much welcome the schemes proposal for introducing greenery on the publicly accessible roof terrace of the Daily Express Building and on the stepped terraces of the new River Court building. The developers have considered that the increased urban greening across the two buildings will improve not only the local biodiversity, but it will also enhance the outlook for nearby residents and commercial neighbours. The developers also highlight environmental best practice through a commitment of c.44% carbon reduction for the developments, aiding in global, national, and local sustainability targets.

 

The Fleet Street Quarter is supportive of the development of 120 Fleet Street. The proposed development celebrates and preserves the rich history of the former Daily Express building, while simultaneously creating a dynamic, exciting, and forward-looking scheme. As stewards for the area, we are confident that the scheme will produce a reimagined (and much needed) enhanced public realm, exciting retail, hospitality, and cultural offering and most importantly, a commitment to environmental best practice – very much aligning with the ambitions of the Partnership and its members.”


Business consultation outcomes

A huge thank you to everyone who completed our business consultation survey over the last couple of months. By hearing your views, we’ll be able to shape our business plan and ensure that we meet the needs of our business community in advance of the formal ballot to become a business improvement district.

Businesses within the proposed footprint were invited to complete the survey. The responses demonstrate the thoughts of the business community and provide a transparent document that reflects the needs and aspirations of the business community.

The FSQ Partnership perception analysis is part of the formal legislative process that is followed in the
development of a business improvement district.

The consultation was carried out over a 6-week period from May to June. Due to the impact of the recent
pandemic, the survey was completed via an online survey, with the FSQ team engaging with businesses
eligible to vote via email and phone. Businesses that would be subject to pay the potential BID levy were
invited to take part in the survey, however, businesses outside the levy threshold were also considered and
encouraged to take part in the survey.

The survey consisted of a selection of questions across the key themes that the BID would hope to focus
on, along with general questions regarding the current partnership and BID ballot. The consultation allows
the current FSQ Partnership to gain an insight into the wants, needs and aspirations of the local business
community. The questions were designed to look at the opportunities available for improvements and
benefits to the area should the business improvement district become a formalised vehicle in 2022.

You can read the full outcomes and analysis here.


Plans by Fletcher Priest for a 13-storey office building have been given the green light by City of London’s Planning and Transport Committee

The Fleet Street Quarter was delighted to hear that plans by Fletcher Priest for a 13-storey office building have been given the green light by City of London’s Planning and Transport Committee

Martha Grekos, Chair of Public Realm and Environment said “On behalf of the FSQ, we are delighted that the scheme we supported has been granted a resolution for planning consent by the City of London Corporation’s Planning & Transportation Committee. The Partnership is supportive of the scheme’s improvements to the local public realm, which aid in the ambitions being formed within the Partnership’s own Area Based Strategy. The development will present an opportunity for enhanced pedestrian through routes, creating better permeability and accessibility. Our Partnership advocates the importance of strong external environments and public realm and its influence in the way we experience and feel about an area; a high-quality public realm can have a direct impact in increasing dwell time, local spend and investment. With 100 Fetter Lane sitting in the northern boundary of the Partnership, the developers have also made acknowledgment in looking for prospects of linking and engaging with local neighbourhoods, such as the Culture Mile.

A key highlight from the proposed scheme was around the development’s robust biodiversity, green infrastructure, and sustainability strategy. The developers have furthered their sustainability commitments by also implementing an ecological strategy, boosting biodiversity. Whilst the FSQ has its own commitments and ambitions, 100 Fetter Lane would fulfil ambitions linked to the City of London’s Biodiversity Plan and Climate Action Strategy. Whilst greening can offer visual enhancements to the area, the well thought out greening strategy also offers a functional purpose in future-proofing our district through climate resilience. In the short-term, co-benefits of greening will create pleasant spaces that encourages people to stay longer and engage more with their surroundings. This not only is a positive thing for local economies but adds to the vibrancy and character of an area, that can also positively impact peoples’ wellbeing.

The various improvements to the public realm, additional greening and economic prospects that the scheme presents are welcomed and celebrated by the Partnership, particularly as we look towards a recovery from the recent pandemic. We hope the City Corporation will approve this application and continue to support the ongoing regeneration and enhancement of the wider Fleet Street Quarter area.


Plans for former Daily Mail building Northcliffe House given the green light

The go-ahead has been given for the refurbishment of Northcliffe House, the former Fleet Street home to the offices and printing presses of the Daily Mail newspaper until the late 1980s – sitting within the Whitefriars Conservation Area as a Grade II listed building.

The intention is to create a flexible workplace which responds to the requirements of tenants once the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been contained. The design seeks to unify the various components of the office building at high level and create a more considered and coherent massing than currently exists. The proposed office additions at levels 5 and 6 are progressively set back, creating three south-facing ‘green’ landscaped roof terraces. These wide terraces link with an existing terrace above Bouverie Street and Whitefriars Street, wrapping around the southern façade of the building while acknowledging their relationship with the historic turret. The approach allows these terrace areas – characterised by extensive planting and roofs – to be used as outdoor workspaces and for meetings as well as ‘outdoor rooms’ where occupiers can socialise. The listed Art Deco elevations and the existing brick and stone Victorian façade on Tudor Street will be cleaned and repaired as part of the proposal but will otherwise remain unaltered in design and appearance.

Martha Grekos, Chair of the Public Realm and Environment Group, said: “The building sits in the heart of the Fleet Street Business Development District and the contemporary iteration of Northcliffe House will act as a catalyst, attracting other businesses into the area by establishing a new ‘sense of place’.”