A school trip around Fitzroy Place

We were delighted to host fifteen or so school children with an interest in joining real estate around our Fitzroy Place development in February 2015. I’ll leave it to the visitors to detail the trip, which they did in their own school magazine, except below.


Trip to Fitzroy Place, City of Westminster, 3rd February 2015

The Property Society went on its first trip into the heart of Westminster, where developers Exemplar have been developing a three-acre plot where the old Middlesex Hospital once stood. Fitzroy Place is a 95,000-square-metre complex made up of office, residential and commercial space contained within three main buildings, surrounding a completely public courtyard that includes the old hospital chapel (which is now being opened up for the first time too). It will also house a 30 tonne art sculpture that is being created by Peter Randall-Page, which will be a huge naturally eroded glacial erratic boulder that uses text as texture, with the entire surface of the stone carved with a pattern consisting of as many of the world’s written scripts as possible, from the Cuneiform writing of ancient Mesopotamia to ‘text talk’.

We arrived at the marketing suite that was completely furnished with the materials, furniture and finishes that they would be using in all of the apartments and offices, to give the customer the most realistic experience of what it would be like to live in the finished space. They had the actual taps and door handles so that the customer could feel the quality and finish of every detail. This was necessary as the customers were deciding to spend a lot of money on an apartment that they could not actually visit. This meant that the idea behind the marketing suite was that the closer the customer could get to see the finished product, the more likely they were to buy. Each price bracket of apartments had its own brochure, which got smarter and included a better service as the value increased, with the apartments ranging from £400,000 to £15 million.In the marketing suite, there was also a large model of the development so that you could see each part individually. From walking in off the street only being able to see one part of the development, it was incredible to see the scale of the whole project and the building that we would be looking at, and also what they were aiming for the finished area to look like.

Before we had a tour of the site, Mr van Gelder spoke to us about the development itself and his career in property up until that point. Planning was granted in March 2012 and construction started. They had around 1,300 workers on the site each day, all at different stages of construction, and as this number was so great, they had a full-time canteen built so that all of the workers were  fed every day. To add to the logistical nightmare in the heart of London, they had 80 lorry loads a day transporting earth away from the site as they dug down to lay the foundations. Every detail had to be included in the planning process, including whether the large increase in numbers in that area could be handled by the transport infrastructure in the future.

We were then taken across to the development and had to put on hard hats, high visibility jackets and boots before we were allowed on site, due to the huge number of health and safety laws in place. We then looked round some of the nearly completed office space, where all the wiring had been fitted and both the upper and lower voids had been put in. This had an amazing balcony running round it, allowing for great views across London, but one side also looked into the courtyard, which meant that you could see the development from the inside. Here, the boys had a chance to talk to those involved in the marketing, development and residential aspects of the project. We were then taken down into the old chapel that they had built and were shown all the renovation work that they were carrying out in there. After this, we were able to look at two of the apartments, one being a penthouse and the other a ground-floor flat. The whole group was able to look around this and admire the amazing views, which stretched back to Wembley and the Shard. We were then taken down to the ground floor flat that was split over two levels, with a bedroom on each floor and a kitchen on the lower ground floor that benefited from a double height window that made up the whole outer side of the flat. This introduced as much light as possible down to the lower ground which was fantastic. It was great for us to see the spectrum of the residential space that they had. Bearing in mind that construction was still going on everywhere around the plot, we felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to look round the site.

To finish what had already been an incredibly memorable afternoon, the Exemplar team very kindly took the whole group to the pub for some food afterwards, which allowed us to get in our last questions before we had to leave. We hugely appreciated and enjoyed the visit with a huge amount taken away from it and much food for thought regarding future career prospects. They really pulled out all the stops for us and put on a spectacular afternoon that was very worthwhile.