Savile Row block demolition ‘would make no sense,’ council report says

By Adrian Zorzut, Local Democracy Reporter

Westminster City council is poised to reject the redevelopment of an office building in Savile Row because it is an ‘unjustified waste’ to knock it down and build a new one, a report has revealed.

Planning officers said the proposal by the Pollen Estate Trustee Company to demolish the unlisted building at 18-20 Savile Row and replace it with a modern office block instead of refurbishing it cannot be justified because some of the existing office space still hasn’t been let.

Pollen Estate claims its plans do meet current City Plan guidelines by providing improved office space and said its team decided starting afresh was that was a better bet than trying to upgrade the existing space because there was a decline in demand for refurbished office space.

They claimed ‘inescapable deficiencies’ such as low floor-to-ceiling heights and poor natural light levels made the building unattractive to prospective tenants.

Plans show Pollen Estate wants to build a six to seven-floor modern office block replete with restaurant space at ground level and an ‘event space’ for office workers on the top floor.

It has also promised to house two bespoke tailoring stores inside the new building and reinstall a plaque commemorating John Heathcoat, who founded fabric manufacturer Heathcoat and Co.

But City Hall planning officers said they are concerned there won’t be enough affordable office space and said any approval should be conditioned on the developer paying £220,000 in contributions. Westminster City officers also questioned Pollen Estate’s reasons for demolishing the 1950s building.

They said: “Given that the upper floors of the buildings have contributed to the office stock within the [local area] since the erection of the buildings in the 1950s, no robust marketing evidence has been provided to explain why the floorspace is not fully let.”

The report does concede that the red-brick structure is architecturally ‘bland’ and fares poorly with other buildings in the area.

Both Historic England and City Hall agreed the proposals would cause less than substantial harm to the area. The site is made up of two separate buildings which date from the 1950s and were constructed following bomb damage on the site in WWII, a council report shows.

Pollen Estate was approached for comment and said they will not be commenting until after the committee have handed down their decision.

Pictured top: The existing building at 18-20 Savile Row that Pollen Estate wants to demolish and replace with a modern block (right, as depicted by CGI) (Pictures: Fathom Architects/Pollen Estate)

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