Bidding War over Brompton Road Disused Tube Station

A multimillion pound bidding war has erupted over the Brompton Road Tube Station, located between the Knightsbridge and South Kensington Tube Stations, opposite the Brompton Oratory on Cottage Place.  The Qatari Royal Family and a ‘mysterious’ Ukrainian billionaire are at odds trying to buy the disused station as a development opportunity.  Ajit Chambers of the Old Underground Company, is also in talks to keep the property publicly owned whilst creating sustainable revenue, instead of it potentially being sold as a luxury home.

The 28,000 sq ft building is being sold by the Ministry of Defence as a part of the Government’s cost-cutting drive to raise £60 million for frontline troops. JLL were appointed for the sale with a price tag of £20 million.

Brompton Road Station

 

Brompton Road Station Exterior

It holds a rather dramatic history after initially being closed in 1934 due to a lack of use.  It then served to accommodate the command bunker for Winston Churchill’s anti-aircraft operations during the Second World War.  Floors were built into the lift shafts to create operations rooms, complete with a telephone exchange, pneumatic tubes to carry messages and a giant table map of southern England.  It is also widely speculated that Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, was questioned at the station after a 1941 crash-landing in Scotland.

After these activities were discontinued in the 1950s, it was subsequently utilised by the London University Air Squadron (UAS), the London University Royal Naval Unit (URNU) and 46F Squadron Air Training Corps (Air cadets).  It was used for these endeavours up until the point of announcement of the current sale as the Ministry of Defence deemed the premises insufficient to meet operational needs.

This unique and quirky property still bears the distinctive red-glazed tiles of older Tube stations and is located next to the Grade II* listed Brompton Oratory in Brompton Square and the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum.  It also counts the famed upmarket department store Harrods as a nearby neighbour.

Whilst much is known of the Qatari Royal family whose real estate portfolio includes the Shard, the former US embassy building in Mayfair and the athletes’ village from the 2012 Olympics, the mystery of the Ukrainian Billionaire remains an enigmatic riddle. The identity of the unknown buyer could be Elena Franchuk or Rinat Akhmetov who have both made trophy home purchases in the capital in the past.

There is much that can be done with the site for whoever is successful in their bids.  This includes transforming it into a commercial premises but it is more likely the buyers would seek to develop it into a series of luxury exclusive apartments or even renovating it into one trophy mansion for a well-heeled homebuyer looking for an unique London pad.  The latter two options would most likely be sought as these options would be more profitable given the direction of residential capital values in recent years.

Such plans would appear all the more likely given that 7-10 Cottage Place, which is a few metres down from the Brompton Station site on the same street, was given planning permission for a new-build single residential dwelling including three basement levels in 2009. The luxury London home which has been designed by David Chipperfield architects is now complete and stands out as rare modern new build feature in a surrounding landscape dominated by Georgian architecture.

 

7-10 Cottage Place

7-10 Cottage Place Exterior

Elena Franchuk

This Ukrainian businesswoman is a philanthropist, daughter of the ex-Prime Minister of Ukraine and close personal friend of Sit Elton John.  She bought an £80 million property on Upper Phillimore gardens in 2008.

Rinat Akhmetov

Ukraine’s richest man is an unstoppable force and counts realty and property acquisition amongst his numerous business endeavours.  In 2011, he paid a record £136.4 million for an apartment at One Hyde Park.  At 25,000 sq ft, it is bigger than many mansions.  At the time his identity was a secret, showing his penchant for anonymity. At the time, the purchase was the most expensive apartment sale in London.