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Grosvenor calls for public to help revamp 'London's leading public space?

By Peter Harvey

Britain's wealthiest land owning family want to make “sensational again” a prime piece of London real estate larger than Trafalgar Square.

The principle of the day-to-day management of the Grosvenor square has been confirmed, with the handover expected in early 2018. This will see management of the square go back to the Grosvenor family who originally constructed the square in the 1720s, from the Royal Parks of London.

Craig McWilliam, chief executive of Grosvenor Britain and Ireland, said in an announcement today the square should be a “defining public space for London.”

On land owned by Hugh Grosvenor (26), Britain's youngest billionaire and godfather to Prince George, the “Shaping the Square” campaign will aim to find a public consensus on how to best use the Grosvenor Square garden.

With assets under management totalling £5.1 billion ($6.6 billion), Grosvenor also looked to boost the cultural legacy of the square through the adaptation of older buildings and the development of new structures using the “highest quality design, materials and maintenance.”

Grosvenor will crowd source 1,000 Londoners in a poll to determine the use of London's second largest square. The poll will be used to inform a panel of specialists in culture, architecture and landscape design who will oversee a competition next year.

McWilliam said the company was focused on making their London estate “work harder for the capital and its communities”, as the company continued its £1 billion ($1.3 billion) rolling investment of the Mayfair and Belgravia estate.

The plan followed the announcement the United States Embassy, a mainstay of Grosvenor Square since 1938, will move to a new £800 million ($1.3 billion) site in south London. Development group Qatari Diar have proposed the redevelopment of the building, including a hotel and shops.

Shaping up the Square is not the only property initiative by Grosvenor. The family are building 1,500 rental homes in south-east London, aimed at middle to low income families. The development, worth £500 million ($647 million), is expected to see the construction of 11 tower blocks on a five hectare site in response to the capital's housing crisis.