10 Portman Square / 2-14 Baker Street Campaign

A platform at Baker Street tube station in London.
Image via Wikipedia

2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square) Campaign

This blog makes no claim of association or representation of the development known as 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square) in London. This blog is a communication tool only and to highlight issues affecting members of the public and residents in the vacinity of that site.

For clarification, the site / address traditionally known as 2-14 Baker Street is now being referred to by British Land, its agents and representatives and by McAleer & Rushe as “10 Portman Square”. The site is, in fact, on Baker Street.

Videos related to this blog can be seen on YouTube

Since site works started in early 2011, residents close to the site have been threatened, harrassed and have had their lives severely disrupted to an unacceptable level by activities of the site and by site workers.

Site staff have endangered residents and members of the public and have displayed intimidatory behaviour – no different to the type of behaviour of thugs.

This includes photographing and recording residents including women and children going in and out of their homes, blocking all access to resident homes and endangering residents and members of the public with dangerous site practices.

Pedestrian and cyclists have been put at risk regularly by heavy duty trucks and vehicles driving on the pavements (and have been photgraphed and filmed doing so) – even at times where pedestrians have been using the footpath.

Noise pollution from the site has been excessive as has the vibrations levels going back to the start of 2011. Complainants have been treated with contempt. McAleer & Rush have failed to comply with legal requirements related to Data Protection – and British Land has played ball with them in failing to make available information about site practives and other infirmation – including that which pertains to Health and Safety.

The actions of site staff, the recklessness of site management and the substantial intrusion on the daily life of residents in the vacinity of the site has resulted in some residents having to move from their homes.

No consultation has been taken with local residents on matters that substantially affect their lives related to the site construction works. British Land and McAleer & Rushe have taken no steps to respond to reasonable information requests – including details of certification to show that asbestos was removed safely and according to regulatory requirements.

Westminster City Council stated to one resident in 2011 that this is the most shoddy site they had ever seen anywhere. Demolition of a 94,000 sq. ft. building was undertaken with no safety measures, no particulate control and with no fencing to the entire rear of the site – leaving it open for children (and anyone) to walk onsite unchallenged and with the risk of injury or death.

Fencing of the site happened ONLY after repeated representations to Westminster City Council by a local resident.

Most recently site staff have been ignoring planning restrictions with constant and regular work outside the specified times. The conditions for planning concent have been broken repeatedly since the site work began in early 2011. Indeed, Westminster City COuncil had to impose and insist they place a supervisory person on the site to ensure safe practices are followed.

It is noteworthy that there have been many prosecutions of McAleer & Rushe for breach of various regulations. This has included deaths on their sites and the company has been prosecuted by Westminster relating to another nearby site to the 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square site.

Ownership of the site at 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square)

The site at 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square) was acquired by McAleer and Rushe in 2005 for £57.2m – paid for with a loan from Bank of Ireland   Unable to repay the loan the debt was designated for NAMA. Before NAMA assumed the debt McAleer and Rushe sold the site back to British Land in 2010 for nearly £30m less than it had paid.

The deal appears to have benefited McAleer and Rushe in a number of ways that may not be realised financially by NAMA. This includes a share of the development profits and the awarding of the construction contract to McAleer at a time their auditors (KMPG) suggest that this company may not be “a going concen”. See also the Q&A section on this site for additional details.

In the most recently available company accounts for McAleer & Rushe (2010 accounts filed in March 2011) all the company’s debts are “payable on demand” suggesting that they have not met their repayment schedule on their loans. There are ongoing issues at the site at 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square) affecting members of the public and local residents.

British Land Office Analyst Event 21 September 2011 – Commentary on 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square)

“...with 10 Portman Square, which we had sold six years previously, with a purchase at a 50% discount to that previous sale price. That purchase, at £254 a square foot capital value of the buildable floor area, looks a better deal every day.” David Lockyer, talking on British Land’s asset management.

“At 10 Portman Square, which we repurchased for approximately 50% of the value it previously sold for in 2004, we structured a three-way deal to purchase the site from McAleer and Rushe and the Bank of Ireland, with the consent of Nama…” “ This is not an insignificant achievement.” ”The acquisition has already performed very well to date. Since purchase, the valuers have increased the site value by 52% net of capex.” Nigel Web talking on British Land’s Office Development Program.

These comments serve to add to the questions about this whole deal and particularly calls into question why McAleer & Rushe sold a site at £30m below what British Land now admit is the true market value.

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