Who Owns Covent Garden?

Ownership of Central Covent Garden

How this prime piece of real estate changed hands over the years

The original freeholder was Guardian Royal Exchange, but in 2000 the freehold was bought by insurance giant Scottish Widows and was eventually sold on to Capital & Counties in 2006.

Since acquiring the Protected Lands, Capital & Counties – through its subsidiary Covent Garden London – has continued to purchase buildings in the area and now administers an estate totalling more than 1 million sq. ft. In 2023 Capital and Counties merged with Shaftesbury Plc who have estates in Chinatown, Soho and Seven Dials. The merged company is now known as Shaftesbury Capital and the Covent Garden estate is managed by a team located in James Street.

Trust Powers

Although the buildings in and around Covent Garden’s piazza are owned by a freeholder, the Trust has clearly defined legal powers to refuse alterations to the appearance of, or changes of use for, any of the buildings within the protected lands. On the whole, this has worked well and led to only one major dispute in 1996, when trustees refused permission for a 700-seat restaurant in the Bedford Chambers block overlooking the Piazza. The Trust was taken to arbitration but won its case.

Covent Garden's landlords through time

Although most of central Covent Garden is currently owned by Shaftesbury Capital, there have been several freeholders in the area’s history, including the GLC who restored the buildings and converted them from their former use (the famous fruit and vegetable market) into the lively mixture of shops and restaurants that visitors can enjoy today.