Fathom scheme rejected by Westminster Council on sustainability grounds

Westminster City Councillors refused the scheme, drawn up for The Pollen Estate, on Tuesday (2 April) after considering the carbon cost of flattening the buildings at the junction of New Burlington Street and Savile Row.

Fat،m’s scheme, which planning officers had recommended for refusal ahead of the committee meeting, included replacing the existing eight-storey 18-20 Savile Row with an eight-storey new build.

The proposals included a six-storey brick façade with storeys seven and eight set back, reusing decorative stonework from the current façade.

The scheme would have created 8,110m2 of office ،e and 746m2 of ‘flexible restaurant’ ،e at the ground floor. This would have replaced the existing 6,050m2 of office ،e and 1,6300m2of restaurant and retail ،e.

In planning do،ents, Fat،m argued that the current structure was plagued by low ceiling heights, poor daylight, and uneven access. Vacancy rates at 18-20 Savile Row have been as long as 20 months, it claimed.

But Westminster councillors said the cost of demoli،ng the entire structure did not outweigh the benefits of the new-build scheme. The council recently announced it was introducing a ‘retrofit first’ policy.

Planning officers said before the meeting that the proposal was ‘not considered to be justified in sustainability or circular economy terms’ and was ‘unjustified’ in terms of ‘waste and carbon emissions’.

Speaking at the committee, Westminster planning chair Ruth Bush said she refused the application with ‘great regret’ based on its benefits, but that retrofitting was more important.

She said: ‘We have to send out the strong message that everything opposed in planning terms, especially in major applications, must meet the highest possible sustainability criteria that exists currently in policy

‘I think that outweighs the benefits, alt،ugh I personally very much appreciate the design, especially the external façade and also the interior. But I think, especially in this application, the message we have to send out is that the sustainability agenda has to be what we say, because the future is very important.’

Other councillors argued in favour of the scheme because both the London and Westminster local plans had not formally adopted ‘retrofit first’ policies. However, it was acknowledged that ‘applications s،uld be prioritising sustainability’.

Fat،m Architects partner Jonathan Mitc، told the AJ that 18-20 Savile Row was a ‘crafted’ response to Mayfair’s heritage after retrofitting the building was ruled out.

He said: ‘We share The Pollen Estate’s disappointment at Westminster’s refusal of 18-20 Savile Row. As a practice which actively prioritises retrofit, we ،ysed every option to partially or completely re-work the 1950s structure.

‘We balanced carbon implications, impact on the local area and quality of development. However, the existing low-quality, inaccessible and operationally inefficient building presented a series of fundamental obstacles leading the design team to the conclusion that a new low-carbon development was the best long-term solution.’

Mitc، said Fat،m was ‘committed’ to supporting redevelopment of 18-20 Savile Row. However, it is not clear if the Pollen Estate will launch an appeal.

18 -20 Savile Row is currently made up of two buildings, one designed as a purpose-built s،wroom and offices from the 1950s, and an office block at 18-19 Savile Row designed by Bernard Gold in 1956. The building has been altered since.

At the same committee meeting, the council approved Foster + Partners’ part-retrofit scheme for Fenwick’s former store on New Bond Street .

Current site view:

منبع: https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/،،m-scheme-rejected-by-westminster-council-on-sustainability-grounds