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Benchmark Group PLC (BMK)


Friday 25 February, 2000

Benchmark Group PLC

Development Agreement - Major Soho Office Scheme

Benchmark Group PLC
25 February 2000

Benchmark Group PLC ('Benchmark'), the central London property
investment  and  development company  announces  that  it  has
signed a development agreement with the Crown Estate providing
for  the comprehensive refurbishment of Novello House  at  160
Wardour Street, London W1 in the heart of the West End.

Under  the agreement Benchmark will pay £14.85 million  for  a
new 125 year lease (with a 15% gearing) from the Crown Estate.

Novello House will, on completion of the refurbishment,  which
includes  the addition of a new floor, provide some 70,000  sq
ft  (6,503 sq m) of offices on 6 floors and 7,500 sq ft  (697sq m)
of other commercial space.

Benchmark  will  commence refurbishment  in  April  2000  with
completion  expected  in  Spring 2001.   Planning  and  listed
building consents were granted in November last year.

Nigel  Kempner,  Chief Executive of Benchmark said:   'Novello
House is an excellent location for media companies and support
firms  of  the media and communications industries  from  whom
there is currently significant demand.  We are looking to fast
track this scheme to capitalise on that demand and target  our
product  at  that  type  of user.  We  have  already  received
interest  from potential occupiers although  we are  happy  to
start on a speculative basis.

'We  are  pleased to be working with the Crown  Estate  again.
Having  completed  our major Stirling Square  scheme  and  The
Panoramic,  the  Novello House scheme adds to our  development
programme in the West End.'

Commenting  on  the  scheme, Anthony  Bickmore,  Crown  Estate
Director of Urban Estates said:  'Our plans for Novello  House
are  an excellent example of the Crown Estate's commitment  to
effective  stewardship - it is a sustainable development  that
meets     contemporary    requirements    and    environmental
considerations, without compromising the building's  intrinsic
value.   Benchmark were selected in a competitive  tender  and
produced the best overall bid for the opportunity.'

For further information

Nigel Kempner         Charlotte Carroll     Jeremy Carey / Karen Roberts
Chief Executive       The Crown Estate      Tavistock Communications
Benchmark Group PLC   Tel:  020 7210 4823   Tel:  020 7600 2288
Tel:  020 7287 6881


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