News International, owner of The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun and the News of the World, has submitted plans to redevelop a section of south-east London the size of the South Bank.
Convoys Wharf in Deptford is set to be developed into more than 72,000 square metres of hi-tech office space, focused on the “creative industries”, with three distinctive 26-40-storey towers dominating the skyline.
The move comes after months of speculation that Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper group is planning to sell its current Wapping HQ and move editorial staff to new office space.
The riverside wharf in Deptford, currently used for light industrial purposes, is to be converted into a marine terminal for use by river buses, while the Grade II listed Olympia warehouse will be restored as a sizeable public concert hall.
Existing road and bus services are to be diverted through the site and proposals for a tram-style “light transit” system are included, as are more than 3,000 parking spaces.
The ambitious plans from Millenn-ium Dome architect Lord Rogers are now under public consultation and include 2,000 private homes as well as a recycling centre, supermarket, restaurants, retail units and a health and fitness centre.
The 447,000 square metre site will be visible to News International’s media competitors based in Canary Wharf and will offer views of St Paul’s Cathedral and Greenwich.
A newsletter to members of the News International Staff Association last August reportedly set out a possible timescale of four or five years for an office move – a deadline set to be met if the public consultation process is completed by Christmas 2003 as expected.
By Mark Mayne