Westminster City Council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday evening granted permission for Public Properties Establishment to refurbish 318 Oxford Street. The building was built in 1937 and originally occupied by department store DH Evans but is currently home to House of Fraser.
The large scale development will see the building given an extensive refurbishment to fix its crumbling exterior and convert its upper floors into office space and a top floor restaurant with 360 degree views of the surrounding area.
West End Ward Councillor Tim Barnes said: “Oxford Street has suffered particularly badly during the pandemic, but Covid-19 just accelerated changes to retail habits that were already taking place.
“By investing in this flagship building and creating a vibrant mix of uses the vibrancy of Oxford Street can be assured for residents, visitors and workers.”
Developers plan to convert much of the building into six floors of offices. The top two floors will be demolished and a replaced with three, taking the building to eight stories high. As well as offices, the building will feature space for a gym and basement pool alongside existing retail space.
Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of New West End Company, which supported the application, said: “The Oxford Street District is undergoing monumental and a much-needed transformation.
“The current building is in urgent need of repair and Oxford Street needs to be at the forefront of retail, leisure, and consumer trends to attract the best global occupiers. The applicant is already in detailed discussions with some fantastic tenants who would be a real asset to the international centre.”
Netting was erected on the House of Fraser in 2019 to prevent crumbling stone from the building’s eroding face falling on shoppers below. The building suffers from what developers call “Regents Street disease”: an phenomenon where Portland stone wrapped around steel in a building’s foundations makes it particularly vulnerable to weather erosion. This method of building is particularly prevalent on Regents Street, hence the phrase.
No date has yet been set on when works will begin and there is no indication of how long they might take. House of Fraser is expected to maintain its store at the bottom of the building for the foreseeable but the work raises questions about its long term future at the sight. The redevelopment is likely to involve disruption to the shop’s entry points.
Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group has been battered by the Covid pandemic and Ashley himself has said he regrets buying the department store, which he bought out of administration in 2018.
House of Fraser has been contacted for comment.
318 Oxford Street is one of a number of buildings in the area going through seismic change. Ikea recently confirmed it would takeover the iconic TopShop building on the Oxford Circus junction, bringing furniture and Swedish meatballs in place of affordable clothes for teens.