• CDL drinks to success in Mortlake

Singaporean developer CDL has swooped on a two major riverside redevelopment sites in west London.
The Stag brewery site and Teddington studios are both riverside sites in Richmond borough, destined to see residential projects as the last businesses on the river leave the area. Teddington is ready to build, while CDL will now be opening discussions and working up detailed plans for the Mortlake brewery site.
CDL’s purchase of the sites is part of a strategy devised with UK partner Dartmouth Capital Advisors, to look for development opportunities that offer better value than the overheated central London market. At Mortlake, in particular, the site has strong potential as a commuter residential location, being just metres from a rail station linking to the Waterloo terminus.
Said Kwek Leng Beng, chairman of CDL: “City Developments Ltd working with Dartmouth Capital has focused attention on the suburban London market in its search for best value and sees the London Borough of Richmond as one of the most desirable locations for living and working in London.”
The £85 million Teddington site gives CDL a construction-ready scheme, having received permission in 2014 for residential development. Demolition is already under way, with the first new homes at Teddington Riverside to be delivered in spring 2016 and completion in early 2019.
At Mortlake, there is a substantially larger opportunity, with AB Inbev vacating a site that extends to 22 acre and has 200 metres of riverside frontage. Redevelopment offers the potential of creating a major new riverside residential quarter, with a new parkland spine running from Mortlake’s existing centre, to the Thames.
Leng Beng said: “We will be opening the planning and consultation process with residents early in the New Year. We hope to achieve planning consent in the first quarter of 2018 and to undertake the scheme in two phases.”
At Mortlake, where beer is believed to have been brewed since the 1400s, brewery company AB Inbev has been brewing Budweiser more recently, but has since 2009 been talking of closing the production facility. More recently a merger with SABMiller has crystallised those plans.
The site was purchased for £158m, and has the benefit of a planning brief adopted in 2011. This calls for the creation of a new village heart for Mortlake, with a new recreational and living quarter; new build is to be in the vernacular style. Four proposals were put to public vote, with alternatives including a leisure centre, supported by more dense development. In the end, a low density, high quality housing was favoured, along with supporting community facilities and small employment spaces.
The site has a number of industrial heritage London brick buildings, though none are listed. There is also a major private playing field on the south west of the site, containing football and cricket pitches, and there is a strong desire for this to be retained. Suggestions are that up to 850 homes could be created across the site.
In Teddington, the council has developed a village plan, aiming to maintain the area’s thriving district centre, one of five in the borough. The Teddington Studios site has long been identified for residential use, albeit only once site occupier Haymarket had built a new headquarters campus annex alongside Richmond on Thames College.
The site began as a film studios in the early 1900s, with the first dedicated studios built before 1920. The site was acquired by Warner Brothers in the 1930s, before falling into decline in the 1950s. Thames TV then took over the site and used it for TV production until the early 1990s, delivering famous shows including Morecambe and Wise, and the Benny Hill Show.
The site was bought by publisher Haymarket in 2004 and, with a lease to the studios running out in 2014, planned to move itself to new premises.
The site won planning permission for a redevelopment with over 200 homes in October 2014 when, despite officers pointing to a breach of height and affordable housing policies, the project was approved. The scheme includes 12 on-site affordable homes, with a further £8m towards off-site affordable units.
CDL, or City Developments Limited, is a major listed Singaporean group, with substantial commercial and residential property interests in Singapore. Among its assets and operating businesses is the Milennium & Copthorne hotel group, and the group recently increased its exposure to the UK property market, with the £61.5m purchase of the Cambridge City Hotel; the previously independently branded hotel will become a Hilton.
In London, the company is already working on several other sites, and is actively looking for other projects to invest directly in.

HA Perspective [by Chris Bown]: With the Singaporean economy offering fewer opportunities currently, CDL is deploying its financial firepower in London instead. As a listed company, it remains under pressure to deliver a good return to shareholders, and will be looking to sell the flats in Teddington as they are completed. It will be interesting to see how the Asian approach differs from that of the rival UK housebuilders, who would otherwise have bought the site.
The Mortlake site is an altogether bigger and longer term task, and will include employment and other uses as well as a variety of residential. Elsewhere in London, CDL is working on senior living accommodation, while the company is also familiar with developing hotels, both elements that may find their way into the overall project.
In working up the Mortlake scheme, CDL will be drawing on the expertise of Dartmouth Capital director Guy Duckworth, whose previous experience includes developing the Young’s brewery site in Wandsworth town centre.

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