Land in Paddington bid

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The Independent Online

Land Securities, the UK's largest quoted property company, is in talks to secure the development rights to what will be one of the country's biggest development schemes at Paddington in west London.

Land Securities, the UK's largest quoted property company, is in talks to secure the development rights to what will be one of the country's biggest development schemes at Paddington in west London.

The FT-SE 100 company, which has a market capitalisation of £4.1bn, is one of three parties shortlisted to buy a half-share in the Paddington Basin site from property financier Godfrey Bradman.

The companies are due to submit final offers in two weeks for the derelict site, estimated to be worth up to £50m.

It is understood that quoted property company Hammerson and Gerald Hines, an American real estate tycoon who owns one of the world's largest private property companies, are also shortlisted.

Whoever secures the deal will end up partnering with Chelsfield, the property company run by Elliott Bernerd, to build out the giant £500m mixed-use scheme. The plan includes a 43-storey tower designed by Richard Rogers Partnership and Ove Arup & Partners.

Paddington Basin is one of two giant developments planned for the area, which will become the UK's largest urban regeneration project outside Canary Wharf.

The other scheme is proposed by Development Securities, which is backed by a number of institutions including Norwich Union.

The developers behind both schemes, which have a combined value of £2bn, hope to lure multinational tenants to their sites. Property agents claim that the demand will be high, given the limited number of development opportunities in the City and West End and the maturity of Canary Wharf.

However, some observers now fear that if the property market has reached its peak, the success of the two projects could be in jeopardy.

Securing the rights to Paddington is key to Land Securities' strategy of stepping up its development programme.

The company has long been accused by the City of failing to extract the most from its giant land and property portfolio. Last year, it attempted to rebuff critics with an aggressive development drive. Since then it has bid on virtually every major development opportunity in London and in other UK cities.

In May the company also shook up its management team. It has announced that Peter Walicknowski, the highly regarded head of European operations at Lend Lease, will join the board on 1 September.

He is widely tipped to replace chief executive Ian Henderson when he retires.

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