British Land bids for Commonwealth Institute

British Land is looking to buy the Commonwealth Institute in Kensington, with a view to transforming it into a new headquarters for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The institute put the property on the market earlier this year following its decision to relocate to a new site in Cambridge. Bids already received for the 3.25-acre site are thought to be in the region of £25m-£30m.

Although the 100,000 sq ft building itself is listed, there is significant development potential on the rest of the site. It is already one of London’s most popular conference centres, and sensitive redevelopment could unlock the high value of the land.

However, British Land is up against competition from a Pentecostal church which is also looking to buy the property to use for meetings. A spokesperson for a property agency involved in the sale confirmed bids from British Land and the church, but would not comment on the state of negotiations.

The RSC has been looking for a new London home in a tourist location, and Kensington and Chelsea planners are likely to be enthusiastic about the commercial benefits of its presence in the borough. Opinion is said to be divided on the benefits that would arise from the church’s purchase of the site.

The 999-year lease on the site restricts the building’s use to “medical and health, public and exhibition halls” and “places of worship and religious instruction.”

Other developers, including Heron International and the Grosvenor Estate, are also believed to be interested.

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