Council Sells Grantham House to Asian Property Fund

By Riach Architects, PRNE
Wednesday, December 7, 2011

LONDON, December 8, 2011 -

Oxford City Council has sold a surplus former sheltered housing complex in Jericho - Grantham House. The ex-council building will be refurbished by UK property entrepreneur Johnny Sandelson and award-winning local practice Riach Architects to provide a contemporary high quality housing scheme of apartments.

Johnny Sandelson and his Asian-based partner, Shuif Hussain advised on the purchase. Mr Hussain commented that Oxford has an international standing, and its reputation was held in very high regard in Asia.

The purchase was financed by The Iconic Assets Heritage Acquisition Fund which was established to identify opportunities with attractive rental returns, and to acquire real estate with significant historic, iconic or culturally important attributes. 

Johnny Sandelon said:

“We are delighted to have made this acquisition. We will shortly be submitting plans to the planning department, and with their support, we believe we will reap significant long term rental returns. However, as advisor to the fund it is my duty to ensure that the project will benefit not only the private investors, we must also produce a high quality architecturally designed refurbishment.

“There is currently a shortage of high-quality letting units available, so this scheme will add to the rental pool in the area. 

“It is our intention to progress the works quickly yet sensitively to create a modern feature building. I believe this will provide vibrancy and vitality to the local area. We will work closely with Oxford City Council throughout the redevelopment process.”

The refurbishment of Grantham House offers an opportunity to provide a refreshing ‘new’ building, helping to rejuvenate what is currently a derelict building in the heart of Jericho. The acquisition team and the local council also recognised the potential commercial link between the Grantham House refurbishment scheme and Oxford University’s new Humanities campus.  The provision of 29 residential units in the area will provide much needed accommodation.

Steve Sprason, Head of Corporate Assets at Oxford City Council, said:

“This sale has produced a significant capital receipt in a very testing economic climate. Set against the savings required this allows the Council to continue in its plans to provide much needed affordable housing in the city. The building is surplus to our requirements and we have encouraged the purchasers to refurbish the building to a n attractive high standard in keeping with the location.” 

Riach Architects played a significant role in the acquisition process - preparing a number of feasibility and viability studies and appraisals, and worked with all parties in conceiving the design of the new development. Riach have been involved in a number of high-profile constructions in the Oxfordshire area, such as Ivydene and Poets Corner. Riach will act as lead consultants on the design and implementation of the Grantham House redevelopment.

The Grantham House development is in a highly sustainable location, close to Walton Street and Oxford City Centre.  A new ‘green’ roof will be created using contemporary materials to modernise the appearance of the building - in addition to upgrading the fabric and reducing heat loss. New roof lights will also be introduced to bring greater levels of light within the building, thus reducing reliance on electricity.

Douglas Riach, Principal of Riach Architects, said:

“Sustainable aims were key to the design proposals. It is intended that we re-use the existing building saving the material which would otherwise be wasted in its demolition. These apartments will be light, open and well-connected - creating pleasant living conditions for future residents.

“The existing building envelope will be thermally upgraded with the introduction of modern glazing systems and an insulated external render system to over-clad the tired existing brickwork. This brings the opportunity to add colour as per the adjacent Observatory Street and Plantation Road.”

Discussions are currently taking place between the purchaser and Blenheim Palace regarding a proposal for partnership for the Grantham House refurbishment. This follows their successful joint venture on the redevelopment of Talbot Lodge, a £3.25 million Oxfordshire home. The Grantham House apartments are expected to be available to let from Autumn 2013.

Johnny Sandelson, Email: johnny at - Phone: +44(0)20-7861-2429

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