The unveiling of Europe’s tallest building in Central London has brought into focus the impact wealthy foreign buyers are having on the property market.
The Shard is joint-owned by the state of Qatar and the Sellar Property Group, while it was part funded by the Qatar National Bank.
So it’s no surprise the prime minister of Qatar, Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabor Al Thani, will be joining The Duke of York at the official unveiling.
Qatar central bank governor Abdullah Saoud Al-Thani said: “The Shard is the newest London landmark and a beacon of the city of London’s resilience and expansion, even during tough economic times.
“It is a symbol of Qatar’s belief and commitment to London both today and in the future.
“We have a long heritage and continued commitment to invest and build in the UK for the long term and The Shard highlights this close relationship.”
The Shard will contain high quality offices, top class restaurants and a five-star Shangri-La hotel, perfect for wealthy visitors and businesspeople. But will London’s small businesses see any benefit from the capital’s latest iconic landmark?
Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) London senior development manager Matthew Jaffa is optimistic that investment in The Shard will trickle down to smaller companies.
Jaffa said: “The cost of taking up space in The Shard is extremely expensive and is certainly not aimed at the micro level of businesses, but it is good that we are seeing this kind of development in an area that has been deprived for many years.
“Hopefully opportunities will arise and jobs will be created so there could be procurement opportunities further down the line for smaller businesses.”
Jaffa said there was a danger, however, that small businesses could be priced out of Central London as foreign buyers push up the rental rates of property.
He called on councils and landlords to find innovative ways to allow small businesses to take up office space to avoid it laying vacant.
The FSB has been working with other organisations to ensure SMEs can benefit from inward investment, he said.
“The FSB is working closely with organisations like UK Trade & Investment to find opportunities for them to export, but also with London & Partners, to find ways of gathering good practice and harnessing the opportunities provided through inward investment.”
Mayor of London Boris Johnson described The Shard as a “towering illustration of London’s determination to beat recession and spur economic growth”.