LONDON, Jan 14 (Reuters) - The state of Qatar plans to extend its London property empire with a 27-storey tower next to the Shard, the landmark skyscraper that still has free office space but no permanent residents one-and-a-half years after it opened.
The new 160,000 square foot (14,860 sq metre) building, which developer Sellar Property Group said on Tuesday will contain shops and 150 flats, marks the latest phase in the redevelopment of the area around London Bridge train station.
It will sit between the glass-clad Shard, funded by the Qatari royal family and opened in a blaze of publicity in July 2012, and a smaller office block called The Place, earmarked as the new home of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch's News Corp .
It will be designed by Shard architect Renzo Piano and join The Place and the Shard in the same parent development, the London Bridge Quarter estate.
The proposal for the largely residential tower coincides with a surge in London property prices
A spokesman for the estate said the 150 apartments would be smaller than the Shard's still vacant ten apartments, which had yet to be marketed.
Overall, 75 percent of the 2 million square feet of commercial and residential space in the estate had been filled, he said.
Companies that have agreed to take space in the Shard include Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera and private hospital group Hospital Corporation of America.
The developers plan to submit the planning application for the new tower next week.