The end of an era was signalled with News International’s move to Wapping in 1986. Although the last newspaper didn't leave until 2016, and while Fleet Street may have shed its reporters, the Mid Town location remains a bustling one as London's legal quarter. Sandwiched between the Royal Courts of Justice and the Old Bailey, the pavements still team with scurrying barristers.
However, outside of law firms Fleet Street and Mid-Town were largely ignored as a potential office location, but a revival is well underway with companies from across the commercial spectrum awakening to the strategic, convenient and lively position.
Saatchi & Saatchi surprised the market when they relocated their London headquarters to Chancery Lane in 2017. Dubbed an unlikely move for an advertising agency, a glance at the map shows what a canny decision it was. Connecting the fashion brands of the West End, the creative & tech scene of the City Fringe, and the financial powerhouse of the City, Mid Town is uniquely placed between them all.
The western end of Fleet Street forms part of the Northbank Business Improvement District whose public realm and environmental improvements have generated over £1million in extra local revenue since 2013, and attracted some £40m in upcoming investment.
Significant commercial development is also on the horizon with Freshfields and Goldman Sachs vacating their buildings and relocating. The run along Fleet Street will soon be transformed with redevelopment of Fleetbank House, 65 Fleet Street, River Court and Peterborough Court all due to be activated by the City paving the way for over 1.25million ft2 of new office space, dramatically increasing the number of people and businesses in the neighbourhood.
In addition, the City intends to promote the main thoroughfare from St Paul’s Cathedral along Fleet Street by improving the quality of retailing provided, the retail environment and experience. Their focus is on encouraging new retail development and will give shops with A1 uses priority, thus enhancing the existing retail provisions. They aim to protect existing retail facilities and maintain the scattered distribution of convenient local services. Focus will also be on improving conditions and accessibility for pedestrians and encourage movement between retailers.
One last factor often forgotten about Fleet Street is just how close it is to the South Bank. A delightful ten-minute walk across the Thames over nearby Blackfriars Bridge, London’s cultural belt (and indeed former home of Saatchi & Saatchi) is alive with a litany of Londoners’ favourites including Tate Modern, Borough Market and the National Theatre.
If developers or office tenants haven’t snapped up the opportunities on Fleet Street by now, they may well be too late… this street is sure to make headlines!