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The chief executive officer of one of the biggest commercial property firms in the United Kingdom, British Land, is Chris Grigg, and he says that the skyline of London needs to evolve to become more like that of Manhattan if it wants to keep attracting firms to the city.
This is not to suggest that such a move would not be without its’ battles. British Land has recently won exactly this type of fight against English Heritage, which wanted parts of the city’s Broadgate complex to be given Grade II listed status and would have spoiled British Land’s plans to develop new offices there for UPS. Grigg notes that more such fights are likely to be on the horizon, with a number of offices let on 20 or 25 year leases nearly up, meaning they are likely to be either redeveloped or even demolished soon, something with which English Heritage may have a problem.
Grigg says his company will pay attention to “interested parties,” but is insistent on the notion that the office space that is available in London needs to undergo a radical change if the capital city is to continue being competitive on a global scale. One big change Grigg is witnessing from clients is a demand for buildings that can change their layouts as easily as a Meccano set. “It’s a very smart idea, which I confess I wouldn’t have thought of,” he admits. “We’re seeing a big change.”
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