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William R Berkley, chairman and chief executive officer of WR Berkley

WR Berkley secures planning consent for City of London tower

American insurance holding company WR Berkley has secured planning consent for a new 38-storey headquarters for its European operations in the heart of the City of London.

The development would provide over 500,000 sq ft of commercial space only metres from Lloyd’s of London, the home of the international insurance and reinsurance markets.

The proposed new tower at 52-54 Lime Street – nicknamed by commentators “the Scalpel” – is designed by architects Kohn Pedersen Fox. It would create 7,700 sq ft of new public space at street level, over 1,000 sq ft of new retail and a new 10,000 sq ft restaurant below-ground. The development is funded by W. R. Berkley, which also intends to take up to 25 per cent of the total office space (80,000-100,000 sq ft) as the European base for its five London businesses.

City of London officers recommended that plans for the tower be approved and councilmen backed a resolution to grant consent. Work on site is expected to begin by the end of 2013.

William R Berkley (pictured), chairman and chief executive officer of WR Berkley, says: “We are delighted to have received the backing of the City of London today.  We continue to develop our business operations in Britain and Europe. We plan to build on London’s rich heritage in the insurance sector by creating a fantastic new headquarters for our European business in the heart of the City of London.  We are acting as financier, developer and occupier so these plans represent a real, financial and physical commitment to London.  Today’s decision moves us a step closer to making our plans a reality.”

Andrew Reynolds, vice-president of UK property at WRBC Services, says: “This is a major milestone towards delivering a big investment in the City. It reflects our very positive relationships with the City of London and the site’s neighbours so far. We look forward to the next steps as we aim to begin work on site before the end of the year.”

WR Berkley is working with a development partner, Property Group Partners (PGP, formerly Louis Dreyfus Property Group), which is led by Jeffrey Sussman, to deliver the project. It is also supported by Kohn Pedersen Fox as architect, DP9 as planning consultant, Arup as structural and mechanical engineer, EC Harris as quantity surveyor and Edelman as communications consultants.

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