The team behind the Channel Tunnel rail link will be handed swathes of disused British Rail land at the end of the month as it looks to forge a state-owned property empire.
London & Continental Railways in effect became a property company after the £2.1bn sale of High Speed 1 – the 70-mile line from St Pancras station to the Kent coast – to a Canadian consortium in 2010.
LCR is already involved in regeneration projects in London’s King’s Cross and Stratford, work which will be topped up with around £100m of British Rail land parcels. These include offices in Croydon and land in Manchester and Leeds.
David Joy, LCR’s chief executive, inherits the sites from the British Rail Board residuary body, which shuts down on 30 September. This organisation looked after the liabilities of British Rail as part of its privatisation, but is a victim of the Coalition’s “bonfire of the quangos”.
Mr Joy will be expected to find development partners to develop office, retail and residential schemes on the remaining land. LCR hopes to double the land’s value to around £200m, which will help bolster LCR’s growing reputation in the property industry.
LCR is advising on High Speed 2, which could lead to development work around the proposed stations, and will also be given the job of helping the Department for Transport redevelop Waterloo International. That station was the Eurostar’s London terminus until St Pancras opened six years ago.
Mr Joy said LCR was “shaping up” to be an industry leader, but conceded that the British Rail land was a “mixed-bag”.
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