Work has yet to return to full capacity at the troubled One Nine Elms construction site in London.
It is more than three months since Construction News revealed that workers were sent packing from the £900m site after the client, China-based R&F Properties, failed to pay contractor Multiplex what it was owed. At the time, CN understood that workers expected to be back on site after three months.
CN visited the site earlier this week, and while there were some staff present, it was clear that it was not back to full capacity. One delivery truck did leave during that time and there was some drilling going on, while lifts were going up and down the two towers, but over the course of the morning only a handful of people entered the site.
Market sources confirmed to CN that the site was not working at full capacity. They also confirmed rumours, first explored by Property Week, that the developer is weighing up options to refinance One Nine Elms.
CN asked to speak to the site manager about the current situation, but was only given an email address for the individual. At the time of publication, they had not responded to CN’s correspondence.
R&F itself has been beset with financial problems, which have forced it to sell off parts of its London property portfolio. In February, its Hong Kong subsidiary was put in “selective default” after it agreed with its lenders to delay a $725m (£539m) debt repayment. At the time, the parent company’s credit rating had not changed, but credit rating agency S&P Global said it could still be cut.
Now, R&F’s property portfolio on the coveted Nine Elms stretch of south London is limited to One Nine Elms, after it sold its other two properties to other developers.
In March, it sold its Vauxhall Square site to Hong Kong-based developer Far East Consortium, losing about £60m in the process. It followed that up by selling its 50 per cent stake in Thames City to partner CC Land last month for about £275m (2.66bn Hong Kong dollars). The developer said it lost about £190m through the transaction.
R&F still owns One Nine Elms and Queen’s Square in Croydon, which it acquired back in 2017. Ardmore was appointed on an early phase of the Croydon job, worth £100m in 2019, although work stopped that year following doubts over plans to build a £1.4bn Westfield shopping centre nearby.
The Westfield project was axed in 2021. Previously, a spokesperson for R&F said it was “formulating a remobilisation plan” for Queen’s Square, following the decision regarding Westfield.
Last month, workers at the One Nine Elms site were fined thousands of pounds for holding a party while the UK was in lockdown in 2021. Five men and a woman were found celebrating St Patrick’s Day on site, where they had set up a bar.
R&F UK chairman Zhixiong Guan said: “R&F Properties remains fully committed to One Nine Elms and this is reflected in the continued presence of our construction team on site, where work is continuing.
“We look forward to completing the development and welcoming guests to London’s first Park Hyatt hotel at One Nine Elms in the coming months.”
CN has approached Multiplex for comment.