Iconic London Landmarks

As one of the world’s most visited cities, London is not short of tourist attractions. Of course, different people visit the British capital for different reasons: shopping, business, and nights out are some of the most common. Whichever the reason that brings you to London, make sure you do not miss out on the city’s most iconic landmarks.

Big Ben

The Big Ben is the London landmark par excellence. This famous clock has been depicted in movies, stamps, postcards, printed on T-shirts, mugs, keyrings, and all sorts of souvenirs. Rather paradoxically, as famous as the Big Ben is, the origin of its name is unclear, as some believe that the clock tower was named after one of the engineers involved in its construction, while others think that the clock took its name from a boxing champion. Not many people know that the clock was actually designed by a lawyer who was only interested in clockmaking as a hobby.

The Big Ben has been punctually marking the hours with its characteristic chime since 1859, except for the war years and for some brief malfunctions. The clock sits at the top of the 315-feet tall Gothic tower known as the Elizabeth Tower, which is only open to UK residents who book their visit in advance (although if you are planning on doing this you must keep in mind that you will need to go up 334 steps in order to reach the top).

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham palace has been the official residence of British queens and kings since it was first built in 1705. The palace is one of the London landmarks that has taken longer to be completed, as this royal venue was not officially finished until 1962. The palace is built over the Tyburn river and on the site of a former medieval village, called Eye Cross. When the village was abandoned in the beginning of the 17th century, the site was turned into a mulberry garden. George III built the estate in 1761 (which contained Buckingham House, the oldest building in the palace complex), paying what today would be £3 million.

Buckingham Palace’s interior is as luxurious as one would expect from a royal residence, as it is decorated with antique tapestries, marble statues, and stunning period furniture. Parts of the palace are open to the public during the summer months.

Tower Bridge

Over its 119 years of existence, Tower Bridge has been the backdrop to countless photographs. This iconic suspension bridge over the River Thames is a Grade I listed construction and as such, part of the British heritage. The bridge was built to facilitate trade with the then up-and-coming East End of London, while allowing ships that navigated to river to continue its journey downstream towards the port of London.

Tower Bridge is open to pedestrian and motor traffic, and one of its walkways is home to an exhibition that tells the story of the bridge. The Bridge has been witness to several curious incidents, such as protests by Spiderman-clad demonstrators.

Covent Garden

Covent Garden has been a fruit and vegetable market since the 17th century. However, the area earned a reputation as a red light district a century later, and town planners were called in to come up with a solution. Covent Garden’s central building was constructed in 1830 in order to attract trade and to do away with any disreputable business. During the six years between 1974 and 1980, Covent Garden was not actually in Covent Garden, but in Battersea.

Today, Covent Garden is more than a fresh produce market, as it is home to the world’s largest Apple store and to some unique fashion, jewellery, and antiques boutiques. The area is also a prime eating and drinking spot.

The London Eye

In just thirteen years since its inauguration, the London Eye has positioned itself as the UK’s most visited paid tourist attraction, with more than 3.5 million visitors every year. At 443 feet, the Eye is the world’s third tallest wheel of its kind. The London Eye has 32 passenger cabins, which double as observation decks. This number is not random, as it represents each of the capital’s boroughs.

The wheel was built as part of the urban regeneration project that gave a facelift to London’s South Bank, although the London Eye is not London’s first Ferris wheel. The Great Wheel, which stood at Earl’s Court between 1895 and 1907, can be considered the prototype used in the design of the London Eye.

South Bank

As its name suggests, South Bank is the 2-mile long area immediately south of the River Thames. Despite its proximity to areas like Westminster and the City of London, the South Bank was always rather different, and it went from being an entertainment centre in the Middle Ages to becoming an industrial ground later on. However, developers realised the potential of this area as early as in the 1920s, although it was only towards the end of the 1980s that a walkway and a riverside park were built.

Nowadays, the South Bank is still being regenerated, but the area has already become London’s waterfront and a leading centre for cultural and creative activities, where visitors can enjoy theatres, street art, first-class accommodation options, and other London landmarks, like the London Eye or the Aquarium.

Read more about Key London Icons.

A look at London’s Bishopsgate Pinnacle Building

Bishopsgate Building – The Pinnacle

Originally dubbed ‘The Bishopsgate Tower’ and affectionately known as the Helter Skelter, The Pinnacle is currently under construction in London’s financial district and when completed will join the likes of The Shard and The Gherkin as one of the city’s most recognisable skyscrapers. The eye-catching design is down to architects, Kohn Penderson Fox and is based on the twists, curves and curls found in nature. The building is inspired by and conscious of the natural environment and is set to have 21,500 sq ft of photovoltaic solar panels of exactly the same size, the most on any one building in the UK and will be able to generate up to 200KW of electricity. Like The Gherkin, its double layered skin will make it sensitive to weather and season changes to minimise energy consumption. The original design had the building at 307m tall but, due to concerns from the board of at the Civil Aviation Authority, had to be scaled down. When completed, The Pinnacle will stand at 288m, making it the second tallest building in the EU, just after its relatively close neighbour, The Shard.

Planning permission to build on the site was approved in 2006 and, when funding was secured from Arab Investments (who settled on the name, The Pinnacle) demolition of the existing buildings began in June 2007. The process was somewhat delayed by an injunction filed by neighbouring company Hiscox who objected to the noise but demolition was completed in June 2008. The construction process required the deepest pilings in the UK, which reached down to 48.5m below sea level. This section was finally finished in 2009. By December 2011, the core construction had been completed to the sixth floor. After delays due to funding concerns which were covered by Arab Investments and a loan from HSH Nordbank, construction on The Pinnacle was halted once again in March 2012 due to issues arising from pre-let agreements.

On completion, the majority of the building will be let as 88,000 sq ft of high quality office space, a large proportion of which will be rented by law firm, David Arnold. The top floors will provide space for a restaurant and London’s second largest public viewing platform (after The Shard).

Getting there

The site of The Pinnacle is at Crosby Court in the centre of The City, alongside The Gherkin. To reach it, alight at Aldgate Station (Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan lines), head west along Leadenhall Street and turn right onto Bishopsgate. Alternatively, from Bank Station (Central, Northern, Waterloo and City lines and DLR), walk east along Threadneedle Street to join Bishopsgate; in either case, the Pinnacle will be easily spotted for its soaring height and elegant, sleek design.

The Regeneration of East London

East London Regeneration LondonOfficeSpace.com @officeinlondonAs one of the world’s most vibrant cities, London’s innate dynamism means that the metropolis is in an almost continuous state of change. According to the Office for National Statistics, the population of the British capital has grown by more than 12 per cent in just ten years. This increase in population has also meant a rise in cultural diversity and in the creation or transformation of new areas in the city. When it comes to transformation, few London areas have undergone changes that are as significant as those that East London has experienced. In this article we look briefly at the history of East London and then examine how the recent regeneration projects that have taken place in the area have affected its economy and its inhabitants.

A brief look at the history of East London

The history of East London is inevitably linked to London’s port and its docks, as they were for several centuries a trading hub. East London experienced a notable expansion during the 19th century, when the railway reached Stratford and linked it with the docks, Custom House, and Woolwich.

The railway infrastructure was damaged during the Second World War, and although they were once part of the world’s largest port, the London docks experienced a sharp decline in activity between the 1960s and the 1980s. The closure of the docks severely affected the economic and social make-up of East London, and what had previously been a thriving area became stricken with unemployment, poverty, racial tension, and crime. The population went from almost 600,000 at the turn of the 20th century to barely 140,000 in 1981.

Key regeneration initiatives in East London Continue reading “The Regeneration of East London”

Key London Icons

Whether you have already been to London or not, it is likely that you are familiar with some of the most representative icons of the British capital. But just how much do you know about their history? Below you will find some interesting facts about London’s key icons.

London Underground LondonOfficeSpace.com @officeinlondon London Underground

Being 150 years old, the London underground (also known as the tube) is the world’s oldest transportation system of its kind. The underground was created in order to alleviate London’s road congestion, which was already notorious back in 1850. The first line to open was the Metropolitan line, which at the time only ran between Paddington and Farringdon Street.

Today, the underground serves 270 stations along 250 miles in London, Essex, Hertfordshire, and Buckinghamshire, and it is used by more than 3 million people every day. Perhaps the tube lacks the imposing interiors of other underground systems (like the Moscow underground), but it certainly has other attractions, such as deers, woodpeckers, grass snakes, and other forms of wildlife that have been known to live in the underground network.

Black London Cabs

Also known as Hackney carriages, the black London cab is one of the most iconic sights on the streets of the capital. The first Hackney carriages were horse-drawn and navigated the streets of London since 1662, although the first black London cab as we know it only appeared in 1901.

Much has changed since the days when London cabs were powered by horses. Today, there are even mobile applications that allow you to use your smartphone to hail, track, and pay for your black London cab ride. Continue reading “Key London Icons”

Overview of London’s Commerical Property Market – 1st Quarter of 2013

According to the latest data published, during the first three months of 2013 the commercial property market in London has been characterised by a slowdown trend in the property take-up rates. As a result, the availability, vacancy rates, and number of properties under offer have increased, although yields on investment have generally remained stable. During this period, take-up rates for all kinds of commercial property in central London were 2.5 million square feet. This means that take-up has declined by 13 per cent when compared to the figures belonging to the last quarter of 2012 and to the ten-year average. Of these 2.5 million square feet, 1.6 million were taken up in the West End, while the rest belongs to commercial property taken up in the City. The City experienced the largest number of transactions, with 35 per cent of the total, followed by the area known as Midtown, which comprises the districts of Bloomsbury, St Giles, and Holborn. Transactions in this area accounted for 33 per cent of the total. Next is the West End with 26 per cent, and then Southbank (with 5 per cent) and the Docklands (with 1 per cent).

Commercial property availability figures rose by 4 per cent and now stand at 17.17 million square feet, which is in fact the highest figure that the market has experienced since 2009. The amount of available Grade B commercial floor space has also increased during this quarter, and is now 7 per cent higher than during the last quarter of 2012.

Approximately 2.5 million square feet of commercial floor space are currently under offer in Central London. Vacancy rates stand at 5.4 per cent, a figure that represents a reversal of the trend observed so far, in which the occupancy market had proved resilient to the pressures brought about by the recession.

Recent trends in the London office property market
Continue reading “Overview of London’s Commerical Property Market – 1st Quarter of 2013”

Office Lunches in London

As one would expect from one of the most economically active cities in the world, London has more businesses than any other city in the United Kingdom. The private sector is made up of over 800,000 companies, while the public sector also employs large numbers of individuals across the city’s 33 boroughs. On any given day, it is easy to spot office workers going on their lunch break, and in fact, many new businesses have sprung up all over the capital in order to accommodate demand and to provide a variety of options. In this article we examine the options that London office workers have when it comes to enjoying their lunch break.

Eating in: office lunches in London

Whether out of habit or in order to save some money, many office workers choose to bring their own lunch into work. Some choose to prepare their own lunch for health reasons too, especially since some reports unveiled the shocking facts behind some popular lunch options (such as cheese and onion pies that contain 31g of saturated fat or pizzas that have 230 per cent of the daily recommended amount of fat content).

Fortunately, eating in whilst at work does not necessarily have to be unhealthy or expensive. A very popular option for London office workers is to order delivered office lunches. Over the past few years there has been a surge in the number of catering companies that provide a great variety of options at reasonable prices. In some cases, it is even possible to negotiate a special price with regular catering suppliers. Another advantage of having lunch delivered to the office is that it saves time, as there is no need to spend the previous evening cooking at home or to leave the office to find a lunch spot. This can be particularly useful during those extremely busy periods at work or when unexpected projects crop up, something that is not uncommon at all in the highly-pressured working environment that some London offices can be. Continue reading “Office Lunches in London”

Looking for a West London Office? Try Chiswick Park

Chiswick is a leafy area of west London, set on the north bank of the River Thames, across from Kew. It is popular with commuters for its proximity to and transport links with central London but many businesses have settled in the area for the excellent facilities available and the attractive surroundings and relative calm compared to the city centre.

Chiswick Park is an awarding winning business centre whose distinctive architectural style was designed by Sir Richard Rogers. The twelve buildings with their glass facades are arranged in a ‘necklace’, all facing onto the shared public space inside. The inner area is fully landscaped with a lake on two levels complete with cascading waterfall, lush, green garden with shade provided by trees and accessed by a decked walkway. The buildings house spacious, airy commercial units, promoting an atmosphere of tranquility to enhance the working environment. A typical building will offer approximately 5,675 square feet of office space with 3,200 square feet available for retail. Current incumbents include CBS broadcasting, Disney Channel and Vue Cinemas. Amenities include car parking and proximity to Chiswick High Road and transport links. Continue reading “Looking for a West London Office? Try Chiswick Park”

Childcare Guide for Working Parents

Childcare Guide for Working Parents LondonOfficeSpace.com @officeinlondonWhile forming a family is an exciting prospect, many parents find it very challenging too, especially when it comes to combining work and family responsibilities in a balanced way. Fortunately, working parents can benefit from a series of governmental initiatives and schemes that can help them achieve this balance and find suitable childcare arrangements so that they can successfully manage their working and family lives.

Childcare legislation in the United Kingdom

The main set of normatives that set the legal provisions for childcare in the UK are compiled under the Children Act of 1989. In this Act, the government outlined the required standards that any organisation providing childcare should meet by law. The main objective of the regulations laid out in the 1989 Act is to provide a safe learning environment for children and to foster their development through childcare arrangements. The Act also authorises Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children Services and Skills) to inspect childcare facilities and ensure that staff working with children are adequately skilled.

The Act was modified in July 2006 in order to enhance the childcare provision for working parents and to provide a comprehensive information service to help parents make the best choices for their situation. Some of the current legislation does not apply to private childcare arrangements, such as those that involve nannies, babysitters, or au pairs. Continue reading “Childcare Guide for Working Parents”

How to Deal with Workplace Disputes

How to Deal with Workplace Disputes LondonOfficeSpace.com @officeinlondonAlthough many working relationships proceed without major problems, in some cases workplace disputes can cause valid concerns to both employers and employees. In this article you will find a useful information on how to proceed and what to expect when faced with a potential workplace dispute.

Understanding the legislation that concerns the management of workplace disputes

The legislation governing workplace disputes has as its main objective finding an early solution to any problem that may affect the working relationship between employers and employees. Whenever a dispute arises, the current regulations are there to help the process be solved quickly and without unnecessary difficulties.

In 2009, some changes were made to the Employment Act to include detailed procedures regarding the management of workplace disputes. In January 2013, the Employment Relations Ministry proposed a series of amendments to the current workplace dispute guidelines and called for the implementation of new statutory codes of practice on this matter. The new codes of practice will introduce modifications to the maximum amount that can be paid as unfair dismissal compensation, as well as outline in detail what constitutes improper behaviour and what factors should be taken into account when negotiating financial compensation at the end of a working relationship.

Types of workplace disputes and how to deal with each of them

Disputes in the workplace will usually fall within one of the following categories: grievances or disciplinary issues. In both cases, employers and employees are advised to raise their concerns informally before proceeding with a formal grievance or a disciplinary procedure.

Grievances can be defined as concerns or complaints that an employee has regarding his or her working conditions, treatment at work, or the application of the relevant statutory rights. There are a series of defined steps that must be taken when raising a grievance, and the details will be outlined either in your contract of employment or in your employer’s human resources or company handbook. In most cases, the procedure for raising a grievance involves:

a) informing your employer about the issue in a dated and signed letter, in which you also suggest what response you expect from them. It is recommended that you keep a copy of this letter

b) once they receive the letter, your employer must arrange a meeting in which you can discuss the issues involved in detail. During this meeting, employees have the right to be accompanied by a work colleague or by a trade union representative, when applicable

c) you should receive a written statement from your employer that describes the actions they have decided to implement with regards to your grievance

Most workplace disputes should be settled at this stage. If they are not and you do not agree with the way your employer has handled the grievance, you must inform them in writing about your intention of appealing their decision. A further meeting will then be arranged, and whenever possible, it is recommended that a senior manager is present at the appeal meeting.

On the other hand, disciplinary issues are raised by employers and concern employees’ behaviour, absences, or their failure to meet contractual requirements and standards. The procedure for dealing with disciplinaries involves the same steps as above.

What to do if a workplace dispute cannot be settled through grievances or disciplinaries

If the issue that caused a workplace dispute persists following a grievance or disciplinary procedure, the current employment legislation recommends that advice is sought from an independent third party before taking things further. The Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has been created specifically for that purpose. Employees who are or might be involved in a workplace dispute are encouraged to speak to an ACAS advisor or to visit their website to find specific guidance on how to proceed. ACAS also provides a free of charge early conciliation service that may help find a solution without needing to go to an employment tribunal. Alternatively, employees that are represented by a trade union can contact their union representative. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau and the Civil Mediation Service can also be of help.

The organisations listed above can act as mediators and advise employees on whether or not they have a right to raise their issues at an employment tribunal. The last step before going to a tribunal would be to involve an arbitrator (usually ACAS), whose decisions are legally binding for both parties. It must be kept in mind that employees who wish to make a claim before a tribunal must do so within a maximum of three months following the date of the incident. Making a claim should be considered the last resort to solving a workplace dispute.

Further information on Workplace Disputes, as well as guides on a range of other employee rights can be found here Employee RightsMaternity RightsEqual Opportunities and
Office Relocation: Employee Rights, Office Occupational Health and Safety.

Focus On: Wimbledon Village Business Centre

To the south west of London, approximately 7 miles from the city centre, is the affluent suburb of Wimbledon, famous for its common- a large recreational park, and the English tennis championships which are held at Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Club every June. Attractive to residents as well as businesses, companies and organisations for its green spaces, community feel and close proximity and ease of access to central London, Wimbledon is a popular location for offices and work spaces.

The area closest to the common is known as Wimbledon Village and is built on the site of the original medieval settlement; the High Street at the centre comprises local shops and delicatessens, small designer boutiques and gastro pubs. Wimbledon Town is more modern and developed, built around the Broadway and the station which has been part of the rail network since 1838. A highlight of the town is the Centre Court Shopping Complex which was built to incorporate the original Town Hall based on designs by architect Sir George Grenfell Baines.

Wimbledon Village Business Centre, formerly known as Thornton House, is a large residential property, renovated to create spacious office units boasting their own grounds and maintaining some original character features which create a peaceful and conducive working environment. The centre offers a range of suites available in different sizes depending on requirements. Amenities include the use of a large free car park. What’s more, the exclusive shops, bars and restaurants of desirable Wimbledon Village are within just a few minutes walking distance. Set on Thornton Hill, the building offers scenic view of Wimbledon College, the village, Wimbledon town and beyond to Central London. Continue reading “Focus On: Wimbledon Village Business Centre”