Contested site has planning permission for 681 homes - and a rival community proposal

Taylor Wimpey has bought the 2.5ha Mount Pleasant Sorting Office site in central London from the Royal Mail for £193.5m.

The land has planning permission for 681 homes, designed by AHMM, Allies & Morrison, Feilden Clegg Bradley and Wilkinson Eyre, in 10 blocks of up to 15 storeys, plus retail and office space.

The consent, secured in March 2015, also covers a programme of civil engineering and construction work to separate Royal Mail’s ongoing operations – which will sit on a 1 ha site – from the new residential development.

“Significant further investment by Royal Mail is required for works to separate the retained operational site from the development plots,” Royal Mail said. “These works are expected to cost approximately £100m and are planned to be completed by 2021.”

The deal covers two plots of land. Taylor Wimpey’s purchase of the Phoenix Place plot is expected to go through in 2017, though its acquisition of the Calthorpe Street plot is subject to completion of the separation and enabling works, and is not expected until 2021.

Should the housebuilder sell either plot to a third party, Royal Mail will be entitled to 50% of any uplift in value achieved over the purchase price.

Martin Gafsen, group director of property, Royal Mail said: “The sale of our development sites at Mount Pleasant to Taylor Wimpey is a great opportunity for us to contribute to the regeneration of the area around our iconic Mail Centre building. This will create more housing, including affordable units, as well as community facilities and more public space. It will also help us secure the long-term future of our key central London operational site.”

The scheme has proved controversial with local residents opposing the consented plans and bringing in Francis Terry and other rival architects to come up with alternatives.