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Property company Land Securities said it was close to fixing the problems at its Walkie Talkie City skyscraper (called this because it looks like a 2 Way Radio) after the glare from the building melted car parts on the street below over the summer.
Chief executive Robert Noel said the problems at the building, which is still under construction, would not delay tenants moving in or exceed the budget set aside for its £240m share of the development.
“A solution is in the final stages of design and implementation will commence shortly. Despite the solar glare issue of the summer, occupiers have not been blinded to the efficiency and location of the building. We are close to resolving the issue and it will not delay occupation nor inflate budgeted cost,” he said.
The glare from the 37-storey building, officially known as 20 Fenchurch Street but which has now been nicknamed the “Walkie-Scorchie”, was so strong that a motorist claimed it melted part of his Jaguar parked on the street below.
Business owners in the area said the reflected sun rays caused paintwork to blister and tiles to crack, while others proved the heat was so intense it was possible to fry an egg.
Noel said that the solar shading solution would be installed when the weather improved, and in time for when office workers move in next year in September.
Land Securities is in a joint venture with Canary Wharf Group on the scheme, designed by the architect Rafael Viñoly.
Viñoly said in September he predicted the building might reflect hot sun rays to the street below but “didn’t realise it was going to be so hot”.
The building is 56% pre-let, with negotiations on a further 20% of space close to completion.
In terms of Land Securities’ retail portfolio, Noel said while there were signs the UK economy was improving and “the retail market has turned a corner”, consumers remained under pressure.
“Although there is improvement in the UK economy, headwinds persist in retail property as we believe the consumer, with lower real income and faced with rising non-discretionary expenditure, will remain under pressure.
“With an increasing population and healthy demand in all sectors, we view London property as distinct, although not divorced, from the overall UK economy.”
Announcing first-half results for the six months to 30 September, he said net assets per share – a key measure for property companies – rose 3.6% to 994p from 31 March.
The rise was driven by an increase in value of its portfolio and profits on disposals. Underlying earnings increased 8.9% to £156.5m.
He said the market was “highly competitive”, which meant sales of assets would likely exceed spending and acquisitions in the second half.
“It is likely that revenue profit will be slightly lower than in the first half as we lose income from sales.”
Land Securities opened its latest shopping centre, Trinity Leeds, in March, with plans underway for new retail schemes in Glasgow, Oxford and Guildford.
The company announced that Sir Stuart Rose, the former chief executive of Marks & Spencer, will step down as a non-executive director in January.
At the same time Cressida Hogg, the managing partner of infrastructure at 3i, and Edward Bonham Carter, chief executive at Jupiter Fund Management, will join as non-executive directors.
The company recommended a first-half dividend of 15.2p a share, up 2.7%.