King’s College London are about to submit plans to refurbish a set of listed buildings, our London Universities Development Plans Conference has heard. Ralph Luck OBE, the college’s director of special development projects, revealed that it was about to submit an application for the buildings which are located next to its main block on The Strand.

Luck said the new development would refurbish and redevelop the structure behind the semi-listed façade to create 3,350 sq m of academic or mixed commercial use. Plans were originally set to see the buildings demolished and redeveloped before they were abandoned in 2015.

The scheme, which has been designed by architects Hall McKnight, will be privately financed via the disposal of a 30-year long income strip. The works are scheduled to take place over the next two years, subject to receiving planning consent.

He also said that since joining King’s in 2013. the college had more than doubled its stock of student housing to 6,000 units through a combination of building its own accommodation at Denmark Hill and taking 2,000 nominations from provider Urbanest. The college was now negotiating with the owners of adjoining land to increase the height of the residential accommodation it is planning to build as part of the Canada Water docklands regeneration project in south east London which would further boost bed numbers.

The work to redevelop Bush House is set to be completed by the end of the current academic year. The five-building complex, best known as the historic home of the BBC World Service, has been taken on a 50-year leasehold by King’s College London.

John Bailey, Head of Sustainability at the University of London, told the conference that he wanted its entire estate to be zero carbon by 2026, when it’ll celebrate its 200th anniversary. He said of the ambitious plans: ‘’I would like us to be the sector leader for sustainability. It would be great to make the University of London zero carbon. Even if we got to a 90% reduction, it would be a really significant step.’’

An ‘immediate shortfall’ of 30,000 sq m was also highlighted, which could not be entirely delivered in its core estate in Bloomsbury. Covenants prevent commercial purposes in the University’s historic heart, effectively limiting its development options to student housing and academic buildings. However the University plans to accommodate sufficient space for 7,000 more students and 250 bedspaces within the core estate.

That would include the delivery of a 6,000 sq m intercollegiate teaching block in the fourth quadrant at its main building – Senate House. John Bailey said: ‘’It has to be incredibly flexible so that whatever changes come in, the buildings can adapt.’’

He also said that the university is lining up a redundant site in a terrace on Russell Square for a new 3,000 sq m legal studies teaching space, whilst also looking to rejig the space within a listed Georgian terrace that it owns on Gower Street which offers scope for a hotel or another form of commercial development.

Paresh Shah, Research Manager at the London Higher umbrella group of the capital’s universities, said that the mayor’s academic forum is seeking to disperse student housing out of the central zone into less pressured boroughs like Camden. He said that a mapping exercise of the city’s university estate, which would inform the dialogue between universities and planning authorities about potential locations for student housing development, will be launched by the Greater London Authority after June’s council elections.

Laura Hallett, Head of Strategic Projects & Change, Innovation & Growth at York St John University said the institution was currently negotiating the space for a London Centre which would off second and third year students with opportunities to work with companies in the capital.