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Six historic London landmarks that have been turned into residential properties

By Steph Dye

There is speculation that ‘Victorian relics’ HMP Pentonville and Brixton might be included in a group of institutions due to be closed and sold to property developers. This plan, which could see over ten-thousand inmates moved into cheaper, purpose-built facilities is part of George Osborne’s spending review which is due on November 25. In light of this news, here are some other historic buildings in the capital that have been turned into residential property...

1) Royal Victoria Patriotic Building, Wandsworth

Initially opened in 1859 as an orphanage for girls that had lost their parents in the Crimean war, this building has served many different purposes throughout the 20th century. From field hospital to MI6 interrogation centre during the first and second World Wars, the RVPB also trained teachers and children and became home to thousands of pigeons after being left derelict and abandoned by Wandsworth council.

© Savills

 After being sold in 1980 for a mere £1 - on the basis that the building would be completely restored - it was transformed into a complex of flats, offices, studios and workshops

2) Centre Point, Tottenham Court Road

Another icon with a famously troubled past is the Centre Point building that stands on the intersection between Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road. From its controversial construction in 1963 (it defied the general consensus on how tall the building should be), the tower went on to be empty for several years as the owner held out for the perfect tenant: one that would be willing to rent all 32 floors at once. After being occupied by squatters protesting for the rights of the homeless in London, media and public pressure eventually caused the building to be let by the floor and ownership has changed hands many times.


The most recent project, due to be finished by the end of 2017, is a development of 82 one-to-five bed apartments, as well as shops, bars and a swimming pool. As a nod to the tower’s previous synonymity with London’s lack of affordable homes, a block of economically priced housing is supposedly also planned for the site.

3) Ten Trinity Square (former Port of London Authority Building), Tower Hill

© Google

Charged with supervising navigation on the River Thames and protecting its environment, the Port of London Authority (PLA) was originally situated in elegant offices in Tower Hill. Designed by Sir Edwin Cooper in 1922, the iconic design was used to hold the inaugural general assembly of the United Nations and despite being badly bombed during the blitz, continued to be used as office space until 2008.

 Initially built for a then colossal one million pounds, a one bedroom apartment in the renovated complex - due to open early 2016 - is likely to set you back over five mil. 

4) Battersea Power Station, Battersea

© Andrew Thomas

 One of London’s most recognisable buildings, famous for its iconic white cooling towers, the Battersea power station is also notorious for its unlucky redevelopment schemes, all of which - since it was decommissioned in 1983 to the present day - have fallen through. From an indoor theme park to a football ground, the electricity station has seen many creative and exciting renovation opportunities suggested. However, due to the high cost of repairs - because of the building’s poor condition - and pressure from several organisations that believed it needed to be preserved in the interest of London’s heritage, many concepts were started but never completed.

In spite of this, the most recent development of the power station does seem to be going ahead, with many of the flats already sold. The site will supposedly boast a residents' lounge, rooftop gardens, a bar and a gym.

5) Television Centre, White City

 The readily recognisable home of the BBC has provided the backdrop for many memorable television shows and important moments in London’s history. Created in 1960 as the new hub for television transmissions in London and, at the time, the largest television centre in the world, the building remained in use all the way until 2013, when it was sold to meet a two billion pound funding shortfall.

The new developers have pledged to keep the original design and style of the building whilst creating nine hundred and fifty new homes, as well as cafes, shops and a cinema.

6) Shell Building, South Bank

 Famous for its use on New Year’s Eve when a countdown is projected onto the front face, the Shell building was constructed in the early 1960s as a base for major oil conglomerate Shell. Created on the location of the 1951 ‘Festival of Britain’, the building shares its site with the Southbank Centre and the Jubilee Gardens.

In 2011, it was decided that the entire site would be redeveloped and that, whilst the original tower would remain, it would now be split between residential and commercial purposes, in order to make the most of the space.

Take a look at London's top 10 most interesting listed buildings.

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