EPR has been given the go-ahead for all-new plans to convert Transport for London’s (TfL) Grade I-listed former headquarters building at 55 Broadway overlooking St James’s Park into a hotel
The scheme replaces an earlier, abandoned proposal by TateHindle, which would have transformed the 14-storey Charles Holden-designed 1929 landmark into luxury flats.
TateHindle won permission for its contentious residential-led overhaul of the Portland stone-clad gem in 2015. However, the consent for the 77-flat project expired in 2018 and TfL subsequently sold the steel-frame block, regarded as London’s first skyscraper, to entrepreneur Tony Matharu’s Integrity International Group, on a 150-year lease.
Prior to the £120 million deal last summer, former deputy chair of TfL Daniel Moylan had warned that any proposed sale would be ‘a tragedy’, describing the Art Deco building as ‘the jewel in the crown of TfL’s design heritage’.
TfL’s decision to move out and release the property on a long-term lease had also been condemned by one-time London Underground design chief Mike Ashworth, London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon and conservation specialist Richard Griffiths.
During Boris Johnson’s London mayoralty, Moylan, then a key adviser to Johnson, commissioned a report in 2012 which concluded that the building could be modernised to provide ‘good refurbished offices’ for the transport body.
However, last week Westminster Council waved through EPR’s hotel, conference venue and leisure plans for the building and wider ‘Broadway Complex’, which includes 55 Broadway, 100 Petty France and Wing Over Station, and which straddles St James’s Park Tube station.
Blue Orchid Hotels, part of the Integrity International Group, will run the 520-room hotel.
According to the project’s development team, the approved scheme will ‘celebrate the building’s rich history by sensitively restoring its unique features and opening up this iconic landmark for the first time through its imaginative repurposing’.
Matharu added: ’Having worked closely with TfL and a number of other stakeholders, I feel we have a shared vision for the future of this complex. As guardian of the heritage and historical value throughout the buildings, I feel privileged to be leading this exciting project.
’To breathe new life into the space, create new value and to welcome everyone to enjoy this special property will be very rewarding.’
A future timescale is not yet known.
The application to turn 55 Broadway into an hotel was approved last night by @CityWestminster - a wrong and foolish decision, contrary to good conservation principles and certain now to see the building derelict for years, since, post-COVID, there is no foreseeable hotel demand.— Daniel Moylan (@danielmgmoylan) May 27, 2020
Plan 55 broadway
Client Integrity International Group
Architect EPR Architects
Development manager Trilogy Real Estate
Project manager Quartz Project Services
Planning consultant DP9
Employer’s architect Buchanan Hartley
Structural engineer Elliott Wood Partnership
MEP engineer Hoare Lea
Cost consultant Quartz Project Services
History of 55 Broadway
Designed by architect Charles Holden – known for his many Tube stations – 55 Broadway was built in 1929 in an Art Deco, early modernist style as the headquarters of the Underground Electric Railways of London.
The building opened to critical acclaim. The Observer dubbed it ‘the Cathedral of Modernity’ and described it as ‘the most notable building of our time’. The new building served as both offices and as a symbol for the Underground Electric Railways of London, which was subsequently taken into public ownership and became London Transport in 1933.
Due to the exceptional architectural interest of the building and its position as a milestone in 20th-century design, including its status as London’s ‘first skyscraper’, the building received Grade I-listed status in 2011. This was upgraded from Grade II listing in 1970.
Transport for London sold the 55 Broadway Complex in summer 2019 and vacated the building earlier this year.