Henry Cheng, chairman of Hong Kong’s New World Development, won approval this week to build 15,000 new homes in London as part of a £8.4 billion ($13 billion) project.
Cheng’s proposal for redeveloping London’s Greenwich Peninsula was given the go-ahead by the Greenwich council, after being expanded and revised from a much smaller scheme that had been approved in 2004.
The newly approved project is now said to be London’s largest redevelopment effort ever, and the biggest foreign investment in the city’s real estate market to date.
Cheng, who is the son of New World’s billionaire founder Cheng Yu-tung, is making the investment through a separate company which he chairs, Knight Dragon. The privately-held company is not associated directly with Hong Kong’s New World.
Knight Dragon Expands Existing Project After Buying Out Partners
This week’s decision validates a plan by Knight Dragon to expand the existing project, after buying into the project in 2012. Knight Dragon bought a 60 percent share in Greenwich Peninsula by purchasing the 50 percent stake held by from the Sydney-based developer Lend Lease, as well as additional shares owned by local London redevelopment specialist Quintain. Then in 2013, the Hong Kong firm bought out Quintain’s stake to take full ownership of the deal.
The developer already has nearly 3,000 homes under construction in Greenwich Peninsula as part of the original project.
In addition to the new housing, the urban redevelopment project calls for the creation of office space, a new transport terminal and a film studio, as well as schools and a health centre. Greenwich Peninsula is also planned to include 2.6km of public river frontage.
Billionaire Heir Wants to Apply HK Model in London
Sammy Lee, vice-chairman of, Knight Dragon, said in an interview with the South China Morning Post this week that Greenwich Peninsula will apply a Hong Kong-style of integrated rail and real estate development to its newly expanded London project.
Knight Dragon, which has been described in earlier releases as an investment vehicle for Henry Cheng, intends to build hotels and a shopping mall above the existing metro station in the area, in the hopes of turning it into a hub for a community that it says could grow to 28,000 people.
Not everyone in London has welcomed Cheng’s expansion of the Greenwich Peninsula project with many local residents objecting to what is seen as a shift from the community’s earlier direction of providing low-cost housing, in favor of more high-end development.
Knight Dragon’s Lee estimates that the first phase of the project has invested between as much as £700 million into public and social infrastructure, as well as affordable housing.
Now in what the company is referring to as phase two of Greenwich Peninsula, the Hong Kong developer plans to put up five blocks of luxury homes, targetting prices of £1,000 ($1550) per square foot, and marketing the units globally.