With 2021 in sight, we thought we’d take a look back at 2020. It’s been a very different year for both Rockwell and the communities in which we work, but that’s not something that’s held us back!
Permissions & Broken Ground
We kick-started 2020 with a ground-breaking ceremony at 82 West India Dock Road in Canary Wharf, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, for our 30-storey mixed-use scheme of a 400 room hotel and 68 apartments. We were delighted to have the first sods turned by Cllr Victoria Obaze (Speaker), Cllr Mohammed Ahbab Hossain (Deputy Speaker) and Unmesh Desai (London Assembly Member for City and East). They were joined by both the team and members of the local community, including the first graduates of our bespoke hospitality training programme. Over the following months we partnered with Gateway to deliver the affordable homes and launched the privately-owned homes as Vetro in November.
Shortly after January’s ground-breaking we also secured permission for our proposed development at Quay House, fronting South Quay in Canary Wharf, brought forward in partnership with FirethornTrust. The 40-storey development includes a 400-bedroom hotel and 279 serviced apartments, as well as activating underused spaces beneath the Docklands Light Railway as the first stage of the Borough’s “underline”, to replicate the successful “highline” in New York. This will go on to expand our training programme for local people with scope for a further 100 free qualifications.
Then in October, our proposals for redevelopment of the Kensington Forum hotel were redetermined and approved by London’s Deputy Mayor for Planning, Jules Pipe. This decision verified an approval for the same scheme by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, in 2019. The £1bn development, being progressed with Queensgate Investments, will transform the existing site, regarded by the Borough as an eyesore, into a world-class hotel and serviced apartment complex. In doing so, it will deliver 62 genuinely affordable homes, reinstate a lost 2700sqm garden square and increase the employment at the site by some 300% to over 800 people.
In February, the team exchanged contracts to purchase the Salvation Army Headquarters at 101 Newington Causeway in the London Borough of Southwark. Located in the heart of Elephant and Castle, this is one of the last major regeneration opportunities in the area and offers outstanding scope to redevelop the existing office buildings. More than £4bn is being invested into the area’s regeneration and, with the Salvation Army relocating to a new Headquarters within the Borough at Denmark Hill, redevelopment of this gateway site has the potential to contribute significantly to the vibrancy and vitality of the town centre. We look forward to advancing proposals in 2021.
Promoting Best Practice
Despite being locked-down, the Rockwell team have also remained firm champions of best practice in the built environment. In August, our Board Director, Jonathan Manns, was appointed Chair of the Advisory Board for Parliament’s cross-party Suburban Taskforce. Co-chaired by Rupa Huq MP and David Simmonds MP, the Taskforce is undertaking a detailed review of the state of Britain’s suburbs with a view to making recommendations to the Government on policy initiatives to enhance them. The following month he joined the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS’) new Planning Sounding Board, with the first task being to feedback on the Government’s emerging planning reforms.
This was the second year we’ve partnered with Estates Gazette to explore the future of the industry through a series of articles, events and podcasts; with our podcast on the future of hotels featuring amongst the top three most-downloaded of 2020. We’ve also taken part in live-streamed conferences for The Plan, Built Environment Network and The Building Society amongst others, in addition to guest lecturing at universities including UCL, Cambridge and Cardiff.
Charity & Community
Charity and community have remained a firm focus and we were proud to announce a partnership with LandAid in March, with a commitment to raise money to assist them in tackling both the causes and effects of youth homelessness. This included the completion of a 100km cycle from London to Cambridge in October, which raised just over £2,500. We also continued to support the Patchwork Foundation, supporting 30 people from non-traditional backgrounds in a ten-month masterclass program focussed on civil and political life, featuring a dedicated session with our Founder, Donal Mulryan, in June.
We’ve also stayed close to the other organisations we support. This was our second year of sponsorship of Westferry FC, which this year provided a springboard for some of last season’s players to access studies at Oxbridge and to coach overseas. We continued working on public and parliamentary events with the London Society. Then in December, we became corporate supporters of 14 Consulting, a social enterprise which exists to promote diversity and inclusion within organisations. We’re likewise working with new groups on future programmes; with Boundary Community School for local training programmes and with SOUL on a new leadership training programme to launch in 2021 to take young people involved in knife-crime off the street and to provide leadership training.
Whilst we can’t deny that things have been different this year, although the way we’ve been working has changed, the core of our business has not. We’ve remained focussed on progressing schemes of exceptional quality and committed to putting community at the very heart of all we do. We’ve been privileged to work alongside a broad spectrum of people who have each demonstrated resilience, dedication and good humour, at times of great uncertainty, for which we’re immensely grateful. We couldn’t be more excited to now look forward to what’s in store for 2021. If you’d like to be a part of it, just get in touch.
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