Transport for London bosses have thrown out plans to transform their TfL’s Art Deco headquarters into a five star hotel employing dozens of people in favour of selling it off for luxury flats.
Details of the hotel, homes, office and theatre proposal leaked to the Standard reveal that the transport body was approached by Bangkok based hotel group Dusit Thani earlier this year about the “sensitive renovation” of the Grade I listed 55 Broadway building above St James’s Park station.
The scheme, which was also shown to Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture Munira Mirza, centred around a a 190 room hotel aimed at “high end Asian business and tourist visitors.”
The document from developers Trittico Limited shows the planned central London complex would also include a 24 hour brasserie, a steakhouse, upmarket Chinese and Thai restaurants and a street level food court including Singapore style “hawker” food stalls.
Modern buildings used by TfL surrounding the Charles Holden designed 55 Broadway would be knocked down and replaced by new offices with roof gardens to “complement” the existing ninth floor terraces. The new buildings would be used for affordable housing, offices and a medical centre.
Other features details in the document include a multi-purpose theatre that could be used for “free access to lunchtime classical music performances” and “free access to…open house masterclasses for Proms-style ‘indoor picnics.” Further ideas suggested for the space include Las Vegas style “star performances by ‘foreign’ household names.”
Smaller scale events such as “‘quality controlled’ busking” would be held in an “open performance and exposition space.” The document says Trittico has already had “positive consultation” with English Heritage.
However, the ambitious scheme was rejected in favour of the apartments option after “detailed analysis” revealed that this would raise the most money for TfL, which is relocating to new offices in the Olympic Park in Stratford in 2018.
In May TfL appointed architect TateHindle to prepare a full planning application likely to be submitted to Westminster council this Aututmn. TateHindle is known for its work converting offices into lkuxury homes, iuncluding the John Nash designed Cornwall Terrace near Regent’s Park.
Westminster’s Labour group leader Paul Dimoldenberg said: ”This a a very good opportunity for a mixed use scheme providing jobs, affordable homes and opportunities for public use and I’ve urged TfL to look at this again. There is no shortage of luxury apartments in SW1.”
A spokeswoman for TfL said: ”We were approached with this proposal in April but we had already considered all the options and are very confident that our residential led development will deliver the best value for taxpayers. We will be taking forward our proposals for consultation in September.” She said the scheme would include some affordable housing as well as luxury apartments.
A Westminster City Council spokesman said: “The council only considers planning matters once an application has been submitted, so it would be wrong to comment on this at this stage. As a general point however, we do welcome projects that increase affordable housing in London and create more jobs for people in Westminster.”