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Neighbourhood news, features, and comment

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    One of London’s largest property developers has announced that it has bought a number of small properties on the corner of Oxford Street and Hanway Street, triggering speculation that it is planning a large scale redevelopment on the back of proposals for Crossrail 2. Derwent London acquired the buildings which are all situated above the Tottenham Court Road station which connects passengers to the Central and Northern tube lines as well as Crossrail and a proposed Crossrail 2 line. This autumn Transport for London (TfL) announced that buildings on the corner of Oxford Street and Rathbone Place would be demolished to make way for a new station entrance and a Crossrail 2 tunnel construction site if the proposals get the go ahead. Fitzrovia News was told by TfL that the Hanway Street buildings are not included in the area and not under threat of demolition. However, Derwent’s latest land grab is east of and immediately next to the Rathbone Place area and consists of 50 Oxford Street, and 36-38 and 42-44 Hanway Street. In an announcement last week the real estate investment trust (REIT) said it paid £14.5million at £2,395 per square foot for the mostly Georgian buildings “adding to our significant Fitzrovia Estate”. The news will [...]

    50-oxford-street-corner-hanway-streetFNBuildings on street.Front of buildings.Front of public house in street.50-oxford-street-corner-hanway-streetFNBuildings on street.Front of buildings.Front of public house in street.

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    A new playing surface at a sports pitch in Fitzrovia will revitalise the public open space says a youth charity but opponents say that football is being favoured over other sports and local children’s playtime at the ground is being cut. Fitzrovia Youth in Action (FYA) has taken over the management of The Warren sports pitch under a license from Camden Council and has installed a state-of-the-art playing surface which will be officially opened on Tuesday 26 January. Artificial grass has replaced tarmac at Whitfield Place and will allow an improved game on a professional pitch which for most of the time will be hired out to corporate users to generate an income for the youth charity. “This flood-lit pitch offers users a high quality, newest generation Astroturf playing surface which is FIFA approved and ideal for playing 5-a-side football,” says FYA who organise youth activities throughout Camden. But the move has been criticised by the Friends of Fitzrovia Parks, a group set up by Camden Council to liaise with residents over the use and improvement of open spaces in the neighbourhood. The Friends group say that the new surface will exclude games such as basketball and netball and they criticise Camden for signing an agreement which reduces the amount of [...]

    astro-turf-warrenlinusreesAstro Turf pitch.Goalkeeper's hands and football.astro-turf-warrenlinusreesAstro Turf pitch.Goalkeeper's hands and football.

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    Staff at Arup’s London headquarters were left with a weekend of unnecessary uncertainty about the future of their offices after a surprise announcement was made saying their building had been sold and that they were moving but to an unknown new address. A trilogy of multi-million pound deals involving the global engineering firm and two publicly listed property developers meant that separate embargoed press notices went out several days apart leaving hundreds of employees not knowing what was going on. On the morning of Friday 24 February Workspace Group plc announced they were buying the freehold of 13-17 Fitzroy Street for £98.5m and that Arup was due to vacate the building from 2020. An email from Arup’s management confirmed to staff the same day that they had signed an agreement to sell but said they couldn’t say where or when they were intending to move. Despite Arup priding itself on being run for its staff — “Arup is a wholly independent organisation owned in trust for the benefit of its employees and their dependants” — those very employees were kept waiting and worrying to find out what was happening. Staff who spoke to Fitzrovia News expressed great concern about where they [...]

    arup-13-17-fitzroy-streetangelalovely2014Outside of building.arup-13-17-fitzroy-streetangelalovely2014Outside of building.

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    The Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum is urging Westminster council to reject plans by property developer Derwent London to part demolish and redevelop a cluster of commercial buildings on a corner site in the Hanway Street conservation area. Plans by Derwent are for the demolition and redevelopment behind retained facades of 54-62 Oxford Street and 51-58 Rathbone Place (known as Holden House or Evelyn House); and for the complete demolition of 66 and 68 Oxford Street to be replaced with a new “high quality glass-block building”. Nick Bailey of the Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum has written to Westminster council’s planners saying the application should be refused. “This is an important early work by Percy Adams and Charles Holden and we are concerned that the integrity of the listed building will be lost if redevelopment occurs. “This site was designed and has evolved with a series of out-buildings and an internal courtyard in 54-62 Oxford Street. This pattern of development is typical of Fitzrovia and enables a variety of businesses to locate in this and similar locations. “While the front façade and external appearance will be retained the character of the building and its architectural integrity would be completely lost,” he says. [...]

    holden-house-development-siteFNCorner of street.Image of proposed development.holden-house-development-siteFNCorner of street.Image of proposed development.

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    Construction giant Multiplex are pressing Camden Council to allow them to work through the night on Derwent London’s largest office and residential development, to play catch-up on a site which has been dogged by delays. Mutiplex wants to pour concrete onto steelwork at the 80 Charlotte Street site overnight between Friday 26 and Saturday 27 January, despite noisy construction work being banned between 6pm and 8am by planning conditions and environmental health laws. The project was delayed in 2013 after advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi, which occupied the building since 1975, delayed its move away from the property to two other sites also built by Derwent London at Farringdon and Chancery Lane. Originally the project was to retain a substantial proportion of the existing structures thereby cutting waste and carbon emissions whilst reducing the construction period. But shortly after work started on the job the less environmentally-destructive approach was ditched after Multiplex and Derwent decided that the existing structure was not worth keeping and a complete demolition of the floorplates was necessary. As a consequence the landmark scheme designed by architects Make was again delayed. The site has been mostly pre-let to The Boston Consulting Group and global engineering firm [...]

    80-charlotte-street-construction-site-concrete-pourlinusreesSteelwork at centre of site.80-charlotte-street-construction-site-concrete-pourlinusreesSteelwork at centre of site.

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    International construction contractor Multiplex has caved in to pressure from residents and abandoned its plans for an overnight concrete pour at the redevelopment of the former Saatchi & Saatchi building on Charlotte Street. The construction site is Derwent London’s largest development project in London and Multiplex are contracted to carry of the demolition and reconstruction of the mixed use building designed by architects Make. Last Friday evening Multiplex announced they wanted to pour concrete on the site continuously from 8.00am this Friday (26 January) until 1pm on Saturday, running four 33-tonne mixertrucks to the site every hour, and running diesel pumps day and night. Clearly irritated by the reaction from local residents who strongly objected and the negative publicity in our news report they announced that they would instead do the concrete pour within normal working hours. Nigel Bunce, project director at Multiplex, told residents at a public meeting on Monday that they will instead do the work on Friday 26, Monday 29, and Wednesday 31 January between 8am and 6pm. On each day 450m3 of concrete will be delivered by around 60 truckmixers to the site to feed two concrete pumps. Multiplex say they are confident they can complete [...]

    80-charlotte-street-construction-site-concrete-pourlinusreesSteelwork at centre of site.Map of proposed one-way street.80-charlotte-street-construction-site-concrete-pourlinusreesSteelwork at centre of site.Map of proposed one-way street.

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