Major new City regeneration scheme will blend student housing with offices and incubator space for King’s College London

Urbanest has secured planning permission for a major mixed-used development in the heart of the City, creating 643 new student homes alongside affordable offices and innovation space for King’s College London (KCL).

A new exhibition space, offering public access to a preserved section of London’s original Roman wall, has also been created in partnership with the Museum of London, alongside 75,000 sq ft of commercial offices and 10,000 sq ft of incubator space for start-ups.

Designed by world-renowned Hopkins Architects, the Vine Street scheme in EC3 will become Urbanest’s seventh in central London.

The developer and operator of student housing has collaborated with KCL to create innovation space for the university’s London Entrepreneurship Institute. The university will use it to nurture new businesses, while the commercial office space alongside it has been designed to cater for SMEs in this part of EC3.

Separately, KCL have agreed terms on a long-term basis across the student accommodation, which offers different room types at a variety of price points.

Built in the late second century, the Roman wall preserved as part of Vine Street development was one of the biggest construction projects in Roman Britain, with around 45,000 tonnes of rag-stone from Kent being brought into the City via barge.

Urbanest, in partnership with the Museum of London, is curating a display centred around the Roman wall that includes artefacts found during the excavation process, making them freely available to the public for the first time.

As part of the redevelopment, significant new public space will be created on Jewry Street with a new east-west pedestrian route, enabling pedestrians to cut through the site whilst having a view into the exhibition space. A café will be provided on-site, which will also serve as a secondary entrance for the exhibition area.  

Members of the City of London planning committee commended scheme’s “progressiveness”, noting it was “the best option for the site”. They welcomed the inclusion of incubator space, adding that “it is an incredibly important use-class that the City needs to offer.”  

Urbanest currently houses 2,520 students across five sites in Zone One, with operational buildings in King’s Cross, Tower Bridge, Hoxton as well St. Pancras and Westminster Bridge.

Construction work is underway at their sixth project in Vauxhall, a 32 storey, 454-bedroom development, which is due for completion in summer 2018.

Mark Morgan, Chief Executive Officer at Urbanest, said: 

“Vine Street supports our strategy of delivering high quality student housing at a range of price points across prominent locations in central London and the blend of innovation space, supporting start-ups, will create an exciting culture of collaboration.

The development is in the centre of the former Londinium, an important and historic part of the capital’s heritage. The public exhibition space we are creating in partnership with the Museum of London, will ensure that everyone can enjoy the Roman Wall, and be a part of the community we hope to foster alongside our university partners at KCL, for years to come.”

Ralph Luck, Director of Special Development Projects at King’s College London, said:

“There continues to be a severe lack of quality student housing in central London so we welcome this decision by the City of London as a great way, not just of supporting vital new homes, but exciting new commercial office space as well as creating genuinely affordable offices, helping support collaboration and innovation in London.”

Jim Greaves, Senior Partner at Hopkins Architects, said:

The proposed scheme will replace undistinguished buildings with a distinctive, durable and contemporary mixed-use building that will provide a new sense of place within this area of the City of London. As this scheme is the first of its kind in the City, the design had to deliver in every aspect, marrying together the different use classes and creating a public exhibition space for the Roman Wall.”