Members support regeneration benefits for Oxford Street
Dukelease Properties’ application to redevelop 61-67 Oxford Street and 11-14 Soho Street W1 has been approved.
The new building will include retail on lower ground to second floor, offices at third and fourth floor and residential at fifth and sixth floor.
Cairman Cllr Davis argued the scheme was vital to support the redevelopment and regeneration of the eastern end of Oxford Street.
Officer Steve Brandon said: “There is a late rep from Cllr Glanz and the New West End Company supporting this and an objection from English Heritage.
“The [existing buildings] on Oxford Street are buildings of merit in the conservation area. There is a restaurant, a nightclub, a shop and a bureau de change and amusement arcade on the ground floor. On the upper floors are offices and a language school.
“The proposal is to demolish all the buildings and redevelop the site with a single building of seven storeys with ground floor and basements.“The benefit is a significant retail use over four floors. The top two floors are flats. They look out at Soho Square. It’s within the West End Special Policy Retail area. Shopping is welcome and the extended depth of retail down Soho Street is welcome.
“The loss of the language school is an issue under policy. However, the operators are happy to move. Office use will be on two floors. There is an increase of 550sqm and a residential increase of 694sqm but it doesn’t match the commercial increase.
“The applicants have submitted a viability report to demonstrate this would fail if they had to provide all the residential. Our consultants agree but say they could provide a contribution of £300,000 to the affordable fund which the applicant has agreed.
“The new building has undulating double-glazed frontages with enamel patterning. The design is strikingly modern.
“The Soho Street facade would be less modelled than the Oxford Street facade with larger, flatter glazed bays. The rear facade would be more conventional using white-glazed terracotta with flat glazing.
“The main issue is whether this proposal does constitute a high quality landmark that justifies the loss of buildings, some of which are of merit.”
Mr Brandon said; “The issues for consideration are economic viability, whether the residential on site and financial contribution are sufficient and whether you consider the building replacing the existing buildings of merit justifies their loss.”
Cllr Davis said; “It’s all part of the regeneration of the east end of Oxford Street. It’s a development like this that will regenerate it. However much one rather likes the original buildings, [leaving] the building intact will not do anything. It’s quirky but unlisted and not worthy of retention. What we need is a modern building that boosts this end of Oxford Street with large floorplates to allow a major retailer to come here.
“I see no problems with the loss of the existing buildings. The replacement is an attractive design and will have the ‘wow factor’ and there will be retail on four floors which will help the area.
“The loss of the nightclub is beneficial and residential is welcome. The test in policies has been met. There will be a substantial benefit that outweighs the loss of the building. As far as the housing package is concerned, it’s acceptable. I would be happy to grant.”
Cllr Mitchell said; “I welcome the prospect of regeneration. The housing package is acceptable. On the issue of the design, I don’t like it. The overall building is too high. The applicants are pushing their luck.”
Cllr Boothroyd said; “This end of Oxford Street needs a significant lift because of problems with Crossrail and shops closing etc. I am not as concerned about the height but interested in knowing what the full contribution would be for the affordable.”
Mr Brandon replied; “£1.3million.”
Cllr Boothroyd said: “It’s a substantial reduction. I am also concerned about the two buildings of merit especially given Crossrail has demolished several listed buildings. Can the design officer talk me into it?”
Design officer Susannah Miller replied; “I can explain why they are considered to be of merit but we are asking for a steer about how the position is to be made. They are a contribution to the street frontage and the Soho Conservation Area. They are clearly identified in the Conservation Area audit.”
Cllr Boothroyd said; “There are overall benefits of the retail. I find it difficult, especially as English Heritage objects. I think the design is reasonably good for the site.”
Cllr Davis said; “You are not going to regenerate this area if we leave these buildings there. They need to attract the top retailers and that’s the one reason why I was sold on the redevelopment.”
Cllr Boothroyd said; “It’s not particularly high grade.”
Cllr Argar said; “I come to a different conclusion. I am not a fan of this design and don’t think it’s special or appropriate. However set against this is the bigger picture and whether the buildings are of such merit as to be worthy of preservation against the broader objectives of regenerating this area.
“I am swayed by the arguments to regenerate this area and what it requires to be commercially viable. For those reasons I am minded to support it.”
Cllr Davis said: “By majority we are happy to grant consent and agree the £300,000 for the housing contribution.”
The applicant was Dukelease Properties Ltd and the agent was Savills/The London Planning Practice TP: 8495