The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the Metropolitan Police Service have announced a £412m investment to create a new counter-terrorism and organised crime hub in the capital.
The major new investment includes the £250m purchase of the Empress State Building in Hammersmith and Fulham, and a significant upgrade project to make the building and associated sites fully secure and fit for purpose.
For the first time, it will bring together the Met’s counter-terrorism command and specialist crime and operations under one roof, in line with other cities like Manchester and Birmingham.
The move to focus on a single site, and dispose of other buildings, will also save on rent, freeing up more money to support front line policing.
London’s new counter-terrorism hub will streamline operations and capabilities, and ensure more effective and efficient working to keep the capital as safe as possible from the constant and evolving threat of terrorism.
The current threat from international terrorism remains at severe, which means an attack is highly likely. The increase in terrorist activity has been described by police and security experts as a shift not a spike and the horrific events that took place in London and Manchester last year, remind us that attacks can happen at any time and without warning.
Until now, a significant proportion of the Empress State Building has been leased by the Met Police and used for a range of purposes including back office and operational functions. In addition to the benefits for London’s counter-terrorism provision, the purchase of the freehold offers better value for money than the alternative options that include signing another 15 year lease.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, commented: “Keeping Londoners safe is my first priority, and that means ensuring the capital is as protected as possible from the threat of terrorism and organised crime.
“Last year, our city was subjected to four terrorist attacks at Westminster Bridge, London Bridge, Finsbury Park and Parsons Green. We know that countless more have been thwarted by our hardworking and dedicated counter terrorism officers, whose heroism in these times of adversity we must never take for granted. At a time when policing budgets continue to be cut by Government, it is right that we prioritise investment in those areas that matter most.
“The fact is, terrorism and serious organised crime continues to pose a real and ever present threat in our city, and it is imperative that we give our police officers the tools they need to help keep us safe. This new counter-terror and organised crime hub for the capital will ensure that London is brought into line with rest of country whilst being best value for money.
“It will bring our expertise and capabilities together in one place, so they can work more efficiently and effectively to ensure our city is as protected as possible.”
The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Cressida Dick, added: “Last year’s attacks were absolutely appalling. As we continue to try to do everything we can to prevent such events we must take every opportunity to develop our services in a cost effective manner. The new hub will allow us to continue to improve our abilities to confront the significant and ever changing terrorist threat as well as to deal even more effectively with organised crime, cyber crime and other serious crimes. This development will undoubtedly support our hard pressed officers and staff and will ultimately help make London safer.”
Following his recent review of London’s preparedness to respond to a terrorist attack, in which counter-terrorism expert Lord Toby Harris highlighted the need to improve working across agencies and bring London’s capability into line with the facilities in other parts of the country like Manchester and Birmingham Lord Harris has reviewed this programme and fully supports its recommendations.
Lord Toby Harris commented: “A few weeks ago I spent some time visiting the existing arrangements for coordinating counterterrorism and organised crime work in London. These are spread out over several sites and it is not possible for all the services to work together as effectively as they would in the proposed new combined hub. I also reviewed the detail of the business case and I was convinced that what is proposed makes sense, represents value for money and will make a major contribution to keeping Londoners safe.”
Capital & Counties Properties PLC has exchanged and completed on the sale of the Empress State Building for total cash consideration of £250 million.
ESB has been sold to The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime MOPAC; the long-term occupier of the building under a lease due to expire in June 2019.
Empress State Building is a 451,000 square foot (NIA), 31 storey, office building located in Earls Court. The consented Earls Court Masterplan is one of the most important mixed-use development opportunities in central London and is based on retention of Empress State Building’s current structure.
The disposal enables Capco to realise significant cash proceeds which will be used for general corporate purposes including investment in Capco’s central London estates as well as to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
The disposal has resulted in a reduction in Capco’s pro forma LTV as at 31 December 2017 from 21 per cent to 15 per cent.
Ian Hawksworth, Chief Executive of Capco, said:
“We are pleased to announce the sale of the Empress State Building in line with our strategy of realising value at Earls Court over time. The sale enables Capco, as a strategic long-term investor in London, to support The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime in achieving its objectives and to continue our strong working relationship with the GLA.”
Description and principal terms of the disposal
The disposal has been effected by way of a sale of the entire issued share capital of Empress Holdings Limited and its subsidiaries (“Empress Holdings Group”) which holds the freehold interest in ESB, which was independently valued at £220.0 million at 31 December 2017. Empress Holdings Group generated net rental income of £16.6 million for the year ended 31 December 2017.
The transaction is expected to result in net cash proceeds of approximately £248.5 million. The terms of the disposal provide for Capco to be able to retain certain adjacent land interests in exchange for fulfilling specified conditions in the future. In the event these conditions are met a further £10 million will be paid to Capco.
Source: CAPCO capitalandcounties.com