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Northacre sees ‘pent-up demand’ for London from GCC investors

The Broadway development is built on the prime 1.7 acre Westminster site of the former Metropolitan Police HQ
  • Property developer has completed The Broadway in Westminster
  • Residential, office and retail space aspires to be wellness hotspot 
  • Company plans expansion from UK and UAE to Saudi Arabia

The Dubai-owned developer behind plans to transform the former Metropolitan Police HQ in London says it is seeing “lots of pent-up demand” from GCC-based investors.

Walid El-Hindi, group CEO of Northacre, a subsidiary of Dubai-based Shuaa Capital, told AGBI that London remains a “safe haven” for buyers from the Gulf and wider Middle East region.

“This is the first summer we have been able to welcome Gulf Investors back to London ‘as normal’, and this has created lots of pent-up demand across the luxury sector as a whole and particularly prime property,” he said.

Northacre Properties has completed The Broadway scheme in the heart of Westminster. 

They aim to make the destination the “wellness capital of London” and is one of the area’s largest prime residential sites at 1.72 acres.

The former site of the Met was acquired by Shuaa Capital in 2016 for £370 million.

Working with architects Squire and Partners and main contractors Multiplex, the six towers at The Broadway provide 355,000 sq ft of high-end residential space, including 16,000 sq ft of health and wellness facilities and a total of 258 apartments.

Residential prices start at £1.75 million. 

Alongside the residential, the development will offer 116,000 sq ft of office space and 27,000 sq ft of retail alongside a new public thoroughfare, called Orchard Place.

The Broadway includes health, fitness and spa amenities

The site was once home to the orchards of Westminster Abbey, and the design seeks to evoke this piece of history through the planting at street level and two landscaped fourth-floor gardens.

“London remains very much a safe haven and one of the leading cities of the world,” El-Hindi, also CEO of real estate at Shuaa Capital, said.

“Its education, legal system and lifestyle continue to attract a myriad of nationalities to both live here and use as a base.

“For buyers from the Gulf, London is where East meets West, the time zone and language provide a perfect location for international business and schooling. 

“The UK property market is witnessing increased interest in central London from Gulf-based real estate buyers, thanks in part to the pound sterling dropping to its lowest against the dollar since March 2020.

“The new influx of Middle Eastern investment into the UK has been particularly prevalent within prime central London, and many property buyers are citing the UK’s ease of lockdown restrictions as a major catalyst for prospective buyers,” he added.

The Broadway’s health, fitness and spa amenities include a 25 metre pool, gym and personal training studio, treatment rooms and a games room.

Plant, Flower, Blossom
The development offers planting at street level and landscaped fourth-floor gardens

El Hindi said: “We are thrilled with the sales of the development prior to project completion and look forward to welcoming many more prospective purchases to see the completed scheme.

“We are lucky enough to have a mix of demographics including those from the MENA region and GCC in particular and from all over the world including the European and local markets which have dominated the most recent sales.”

El Hindi revealed that Northacre has ambitions for expansion outside of the UK and the UAE, including the rest of Europe and Saudi Arabia.

“With sustainability and wellbeing at the core, the group looks to bring together a mix of investments, assets, services and real estate projects that share a common mission for achieving ambitious and practical environmental, wellbeing, social and economic goals for people and businesses,” he said.

Jassim Alseddiqi, managing director of Shuaa Capital and chairman of Northacre, said completing the Broadway project on time was a “momentous milestone and rounds off an exemplary construction programme”.

Northacre manages in excess of $7.7 billion of assets and has a development pipeline across the GCC and UK of $3.6 billion of real estate projects.

A report published last month by Bank of London and the Middle East (BLME) suggests GCC investors’ appetite for UK property continues to grow, driven in part by the surging appeal of regions outside of London.

It also revealed that pandemic restrictions had little impact on investment from Gulf countries into the UK. Middle Eastern investors are expected to spend $1.5 billion this year on UK commercial property, it said. 

BLME’s study, based on interviews with experts from real estate services companies that hold more than £60 billion ($72.3 billion) of assets under management, cited three key reasons: the UK’s unique cultural characteristics, its regulatory and legal framework and growth outside of London.